The Mariners are done. At least on this night they are, going down 5-1 to the New York Yankees. This was one of the worst displays I’ve seen from the Mariners — ranking up there with that wild debacle in Tampa Bay a year ago, a 13-12 game I believe — since I began covering the team. The fielding was attrocious, the hitting non-existent and the result…all too predictable.
Erik Bedard and Ichiro were both the team’s only saving grace tonight. But not enough.
“I’m just trying to keep the team in the ballgame,” Bedard said after holding the Yankees to one earned run over seven innings. “Keep them in the game so they can try to score some runs.”
That would be the first problem. The scoring runs part. Once Seattle spotted the Yanks a pair of unearned markers the first two innings, thanks to three of the four errors committed by the M’s, this one was effectively in the books.
That’s an 0-12 record for Seattle in games in which it trails by two or more at any point. Look it up. I’ll try to find stats on other teams at some point, but I’m a little busy these days doing videos, flying around the country and trying to keep track of all the goose eggs on the scoreboard. Just how many of these seven-inning quality starts can this team keep wasting? I’ll give you a hint: not many. They all count in the end.
Manager John McLaren did not make himself available to the media post-game. Probably taking his own mental break. Look, we can sit here every night and try to pick McLaren apart for every move — and some of them aren’t the greatest.
But this isn’t because of a manager. This team is now 13-17 because a group of guys, being paid top dollar, are not getting the job done. Simple as that. The players have to play. The hitters have to hit. The closers have to get the saves. The middle relievers have to keep the bleeding from getting worse. And the guys with gloves have to use them.
Maybe not all on the same night, but a good few of those things have to work or the losses will mount. The comfort zone is over. This is pressure baseball. A lot of folks, me included, but smarter baseball folks than me as well, thought this team was a serious playoff contender. Still do. On paper. But that part doesn’t matter. You have to play like one. You have to hold each and every guy in that clubhouse accountable to one another first. Not the media, the fans, or the manager. The players have to be accountable to themselves. Maybe they feel they are. It doesn’t look like it from here, but I’m a little removed from the action.
All I know is, this part has little to do with a manager, as some of you keep debating on this site. You can keep moving managers in and out of Seattle hoping to recreate some Lou Piniella fantasy, or you can look for stability and for players who are going to produce with consistency. A year ago, you were all screaming for Mike Hargrove’s head and demanding that John McLaren be put in charge.
Well, he is in charge. What’s the continuity factor between Hargrove and McLaren? The same core of players. This isn’t about starting pitchers. They are doing their job. This is about everyone else who isn’t. Thing is, they aren’t terrible players (I know some of you will argue otherwise, just hold your thoughts for a moment). They just aren’t getting it done when they have to. There’s a difference between sneaking up on teams and winning 88 games when no one expects you to and padding a record when you’ve been all-but-eliminated by September. But it’s quite another thing to go out, from the start of a season, and win when it’s expected.
The M’s aren’t there yet. Not by a longshot. And they’d better figure it out soon. Because no, it still isn’t time to jump off the cliff. But another week or two of this, of throwing away seven-inning quality starts, it will be time to start climbing.