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July 7, 2011 at 11:14 PM

Eric Wedge says he won’t “stand pat” with the lineup if players keep failing to hit

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Yeah, we all know about Jered Weaver and his flashy earned run average. We know he’s not an easy guy to hit. But the Mariners aren’t hitting much of anything these days and they actually had Weaver on the ropes early.
And as we’ve seen them do for most of the past month, they didn’t take advantage.
Adam Kennedy popped out with runners at second and third and one out in the third and then Justin Smoak flied out to left. And the offense pretty much called it a night after that.
When the game was over, the M’s had lost 5-1, and manager Eric Wedge sounded almost like he was pleading for his players to do something.
“We still have a lot of baseball to play,” Wedge said. “Our most important baseball is ahead of us. Our most important baseball is right now. These three games through the break and right after the break (against Texas). So, we’re working to try to find it.”
Wedge is right. These next three and the four after the break against the Rangers probably will decide how the rest of his team’s season goes.
But for those four games against the Rangers to mean anything, the M’s have to do a rapid-fire about-face right here. Sort of what they did in Detroit back in late April when they went from a team destined for 100 losses to one that blew the Tigers out in a hitting barrage all three nights in their own park.
That came out of nowhere and this M’s team needs an offensive Hail Mary right now — out of the blue — to keep this contention thing going. Otherwise, the team can plan, plan, plan away for 2012, 2013 and 2015. But 2011 will be effectively done, just the way 2009 was right after the All-Star break.
Wedge, by the way, wasn’t buying into the “Weaver is really good” excuse.
“That’s the difference in our ballclub offensively,” he said. “We’ve got to take advantage of those opportunities, especially against a pitcher like Weaver. He was good again tonight, but we did have some opportunities. When you let a guy like that off the hook, you don’t know when you’re going to get your next opportunity and he was able to take it from there.”

Wedge said the difference in the game was the middle innings, when the M’s kept going 1-2-3 on offense. He said too many of his hitters were unprepared for team-related situations because they were too busy focusing on individual stuff.
“It’s not going to change until these guys change it,” he said. “Pull side ground balls? That’s not what we’re looking for. Pop-ups, medium-range or the infield? That’s not what we’re looking for. When you’re doing that, that tells me that you’re not in a good position to hit the baseball.”
Someone asked Wedge whether more consistency in the lineup might help. He clearly did not think ot would.
“When you look at the order and what we’re throwing out there, nothing is set in stone,” Wedge said. “Because they haven’t proven that they can consistently produce. So, we’re not just going to stand pat while we’re trying to get better offensively.
“A lot of people for whatever reason get caught up in thinking that if you send the same group out there each and every night, it’s just going to magically appear. No, it doesn’t work that way. What we’re trying to do is find the right group: the top three, the middle three, the bottom three. And we’re going to keep looking.”
For now, the looking is from within. Facing Weaver is never easy, even for a veteran. Kyle Seager went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. Carlos Peguero was 0-for-3 and struck out twice. Even Dustin Ackley went down swinging on three pitches the first time he faced Wever’s stuff.
But that’s what the Mariners have to work with for now. That and the veteran guys who also are not getting it done. I don’t foresee any major reinforcements being acquired by the front office, to be honest. At least not before the end of that Texas series. And if the M’s are still not at least within three games by then, I’m pretty sure it’s “sell” time.
So, if the M’s are going to get it done, it will have to be this group, in whatever combo Wedge throws out there. They pretty got here on their own by exceeding expectations. And that’s how they’re going to have to stay here if they want to avoid playing for 2012 in July of 2011.



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