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May 1, 2012 at 8:44 PM

Mariners’ new concern is clutch hitting (or lack thereof)

(Jesus Montero getting one of his four hits tonight. Photo by Associated Press).
I’m sure you’ve seen the stat by now: the Mariners are 0 for their last 30 with runners in scoring position. That lack of clutch hitting dominated the post-game discussion after tonight’s 3-1 loss to the Rays. They got nine hits but left eight runners in scoring position. They’ve now scored five runs in their last four games, and all have come via solo homers.
Here’s Eric Wedge’s take on it:
“It’s been back and forth, as you’ve seen. We’re still inconsistent with that. You get 10 hits last night, nine tonight, that’s the positive of it. I’ve said it before, for us to be a consistent offensive club, we’ve got to finish innings off. We’re just not doing that.
“We have to do a better job with two strikes. Too many punch outs the last two nights. We have to do a better job of protecting, get in a battle mode, with two strikes. Fouling pitches off or fighting through things, and not leaving it up to the umpire. Taking control of our at-bats.

Asked if these things can get congagious, in a negative way, he said, “It can, and sometimes it will with a young team. You’re not allowed to do that. That’s where the individual and the team separate themselves from time to time. It’s OK to roll from a team standpoint when things are firing the momentum in the right direction. But when things aren’t going that way, someone has to step up. Someone has to stop it. You have to separate yourself from the hitter or two hitters ahead of you, and go out and do what you do best and make it happen.
“That’s where you have to have more quality with individual at-bats, and recognizing what’s happening, but also going out and doing something about it.”
Here’s what a couple of players said. First Justin Smoak, who went 0-for-4 to drop to .190, though he did hit a couple of balls hard: “It’s frustrating for everybody. You feel like, it’s one of those things where everyone says it’s still early. No it’s not. You’ve got to win. That’s the name of the game. You have to do what it takes to win that day. If you don’t, you’re not going to win. That’s what good teams do. They do what it takes to win that day. If it’s getting a guy over and getting a guy in, hitting a ground ball to get yourself out to get that guy in. That’s something we’re not doing right now.”
On his own struggles, Smoak said, “I hit the line drive to the first baseman, deep fly ball to center. The more you do that, the more success you’re going to have. I’m doing it once or twice every two days. You have to be more consistent with that. That’s where I feel I’m at right now, I need to have better at-bats and swing at the right pitches.”
And here’s Kyle Seager, who had a single in four at-bats: “Pitchers are throwing the ball well, and I think when you get a pitch to hit, you have to hit it. Sometimes, you only get one hit in an at-bat. If you get a pitch, you better make it count.
“We’ve got guys on base, which is good. We’re getting guys in scoring position. We just need that big hit. I think the plan is to keep trying to get guys in scoring position, and keep swinging it, and it will eventually fall.”
Michael Saunders, who delivered the only Mariner run with his third-inning homer, said this: “We’re missing that big hit right now. We are getting runners on base and putting ourselves in a position to put runs on the board. But we’re missing that big hit. We’re going through a tough stretch right now these lastafew games. We’ve also run into some pretty good pitching as well.
“Nonetheless, we’ve put up plenty of runs off good pitchers in the past and we know we can do it. In the clubhouse, we’re not down. We had a four-game stretch where we lost before and we came back on fire and came back and swept Detroit and had a good first game in Toronto. So we know we can turn it around quick. We’re keeping our heads held high and not getting down on ourselves. It’s a long season. It’s May 1 today, so we’ve still got plenty of baseball left. It’s a good, positive attitude around the clubhouse.”

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero


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