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May 6, 2008 at 10:01 PM

M’s routed before record-low crowd

As I mentioned already, Seattle’s 10-1 shellacking tonight at the hands of the Texas Rangers was witnessed by only 15,818 fans, making it the smallest crowd in Safeco Field history. Things are going down the drain in a hurry on this club, now at 7 1/2 games behind the Los Angeles Angels. I said before the series opener that the M’s needed to take three of four, so I’ll stick to that. But it’s getting late in a big hurry on this team in 2008. I’ve seen this kind of fade act before from an expected contender, back in Toronto in 2004, and let me tell you it was not a fun summer for the fans or the team.
This season could get real ugly. In short, the M’s have to win these next two games, with their two best starters on the mound, and worry about undoing some of this damage after that. It won’t be easy. This is a formidable hole being dug.
Batista has no idea why he’s been so inconsistent, dating back to even his first few outings. He hasn’t felt physically comfortable. It could be lingering from that spring training back problem. It’s possible that favoring his back caused the groin problem a couple of weeks ago, one that is still lingering.
But Batista, the trainers and coaches are going to try to figure it out.
“We can’t actually pinpoint it yet,” he said.

Can’t pinpoint it, he means, other than the fact he’s been walking too many guys.
“You can’t execute your game plan when you’re inconsistent,” he said. “If you noticed, they let me breat myself. They hit the home run, but they didn’t really hit the ball hard other than that.”
Texas outhit Seattle 8-7, but didn’t take the lead in that category for good until the final inning. The Rangers had only six hits — but 10 runs — heading into the ninth.
Jarrod Washburn told me after the game that he’ll make his next start. A doctor he spoke with confirmed he’s torn some scar tissue from his previous calf injury. There is also a possibility that the popping sensation he felt on the mound was the result of a ligament in his leg tearing. But Washburn said it’s one of those non-essential ligaments (like the one they take from the wrist to repair elbows with Tommy John surgery) and that it won’t affect his pitching.
Wladimir Balentien continued to hit today, doubling and scoring Seattle’s only run .He’s got his average up to .280 and his OPS up to .840.
“I just started to make adjustments,” he said. “Swinging at good pitches and not bad pitches.”
He’s doing his job. The same can’t be said for others in the lineup. That runners in scoring position thing we discussed earlier? Still there. But when a team is down 10-0 by the third inning, the hitting’s a non-issue.
“The third inning wasn’t a good inning,” Mariners manager John McLaren said. “We need to make better pitches.”
McLaren and mel Stottlemyre will delve into what’s going on with Batista a little further tomorrow. For now, he needs answers about his team, too. And in an awfully big hurry.
That was a fun day, wasn’t it? Hey, at least the comments are flowing fast and freely on this site now. Big change from yesterday.
Be sure to catch me on my Talkin’ Baseball segment at 8:30 a.m. tomorrow on the Mitch in the Morning show on KJR 950 AM. I’m sure it will get interesting.



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