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June 13, 2012 at 11:22 PM

Mariners manager Eric Wedge says all of this home ballpark disadvantage business has to stop

Let’s all be perfectly honest with one another here. I never, in my wildest dreams expected to be sitting here tonight with the Mariners having dropped two in a row to already lose a series against a team as bad as the San Diego Padres.
Against the Dodgers? Sure. But not San Diego. The Mariners have scored a grand total of one — that’s right one — run in the first eight innings of both of those games. They tacked on three meaningless runs in the ninth when they were down four last night and then none that mattered when down one tonight.
So, they take a 1-0 loss.
They got shut out by the Padres! At home. Against Jason Marquis.
I just got asked on Twitter whether it’s time to panic because I’d half-seriously told some folks over the weekend to wait until at least Wednesday. So, I guess, now is the time to panic. At least a little. Maybe panic is the wrong word. I’d say it’s time to be a bit worried. Because this is a completely different team at home than on the road.
And it’s getting to the point where, no matter what everyone says to the contrary, the Mariners seem to be letting Safeco Field get inside their heads. It would be tough not to, when everybody with a notepad and TV camera, or telephone to call a radio hotline show, seems to be asking the same questions about why they can’t hit here.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge is well aware of it and you can tell he’s a tad concerned. Wedge keeps maintaining that he fully expects his players to adapt and improve as they get used to being in their home park again. But you can tell the whole ballpark thing is starting to get on his nerves.
“Offensively, we’ve just really got to figure this out here at home,” Wedge said. “I mean, it’s no secret. We’ve shown what we’re capable of doing on the road.
“We’ve just got to work to help these guys get over the hump here at home to where we can go out there and be the offensive team that we’ve shown to be very capable of being.”

There was a lot more said by Wedge after that. In fact, the first two-thirds of his post-game media session was dominated more or less by a long commentary from him about the state of all things Safeco Field.
“We’ll get it,” he said. “They’re good hitters. I think they’re trying to do a little too much here at home. But like I said to everybody early on, regardless of where you’re playing, or what the temperature is, at home or away, you’ve still got to go up there and put up the type of ABs and do the things situationally that you need to do to score runs.
“These guys don’t make any excuses. They’re very accountable for what they do. Amd they’re very aware of what’s happened, so that’s half the battle. So now, it’s just about myself and all of these coaches helping these guys get over this hump at home…offensively.”
Wedge also said the Mariners have to do more earlier on in games. As we mentioned, they have scored one combined run in the first eight innings of each of these two losses to the Padres.
“You can’t play it this close,” he said. “You can’t be perfect, or have to try to be perfect in 1-0 ballgames, or one-run ballgames all the time.
“You have to be able to go out there and do what we’ve done on the road. Be able to score 10 runs every now and again and break it open and be able to breathe a little bit.”
For the most part, he likes their approach. The Mariners had 12 hits last night and another eight tonight, but just aren’t turning them into runs.
“You’ve just got to really slow it down and just take it at-bat by at-bat,” he said. “Keep your mind in the moment, just focus on what’s in front of you and don’t get caught up in the ninth inning, or the end result, in the first or second inning. You can’t do that. You’ve got to just really focus on what you’re doing, go up there and put up good ABs.”
Wedge said: We’ve been here before. They got over it. We just to do it again.”
On the positive side, we saw Hector Noesi keep his team in the ballgame for seven innings and stay away from those critical mistakes that kept hurting him on 0-2 pitches. Noesi has always had pretty good stuff, but the mistake pitches were killing him.
Today, he made an early mistake at 0-2 and gave up a single. That’s when Mariners catcher Jesus Montero got all up in Noesi’s business and kept insisting to him that he bury his 0-2 stuff.
“He was like ‘Throw it down!’ you know?” Noesi said.
Noesi did just that and pitched a good ballgame. There is hope.
“That’s what I was telling him every time,” Montero said of Noesi’s 0-2 pitches. “Just make sure you put them in the dirt so nobody hits it. And that’s what he did. That’s what I was telling him every single time.”
I liked what I saw from Montero tonight. Forget the three singles he hit, or his baserunning gaffe — costly as it proved to be.
He looked better as a catcher to me. Took charge of Noesi and coaxed better results. He also threw out two of three base-stealers to keep things close. Let’s face it, the book is out on Montero and unless he does this more often, it’s going to be a track meet out there whenever he’s behind the plate.
“It’s been coming along well,” he said. “I think if you work at it every single day, you’re going to find those good moments.”
It’s just one day. Again, we won’t know much until Montero can do this five days in a row instead of just one. But it’s a start. I have no problem with his offense. It’s the catching that remains a question mark. But tonight, he did well. He took charge.
As for the offense…oh, man. The Mariners had better figure things out because the Giants come to town next and they just threw a perfect game tonight.
Well, at least it’s out of their system, right? The Mariners need to figure out how to hit at home and do it in a hurry. They may not be getting many home runs to the gaps, but nothing is stopping them from drilling some doubles up the lines when it matters instead of with nobody on base.
They get one more crack at the Padres tomorrow.

Comments | Topics: Jesus Montero


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