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June 15, 2012 at 12:05 AM

Days of Mariners even hinting Safeco Field is part of problem may be over

Honestly, this game wasn’t worth recapping unless you’re a Padres fan or a supporter of having Hisashi Iwakuma throw two pitches after three days off, so you can read my post-game story here. Instead, here are some observations below.
Interesting post-game session where few Mariners hitters came out into the locker portion of the clubhouse to be interviewed right away. Tough to blame them, since there isn’t all that much to say these days about a losing streak that’s now hit five games on a home stand where Seattle has scored 12 times in six contests.
And even when the players did start coming out, there wasn’t much to say.
Kyle Seager was pretty talkative when it came to how opposing starter Edinson Volquez was mixing up his pitches to keep the hitters off-balance. Seager also had stuff to say about his team trying not to press and wanting to win.
On the team’s struggles at home, he said: “It really is just like any other game. We don’t really change our approach because were at home or on the road or anything. It’s the same approach. We’re all taking the same aggressiveness towards pitchers, watching the same videos and trying to figure things out, But we’re not doing anything differently whether we’re at home or on the road.”
But try to get him to go deeper on the issue of why the M’s can’t score early at home versus what they did on the road, or anything that might even hint at a discussion of the ballpark and Seager quips some one, maybe three-word “I don’t know” answers and shrugs and stares into space.
And I have a gut feeling this is going to be the routine for a while with many of these players. When Eric Wedge mentioned pre-game that he’d spoken to the hitters, he didn’t want to go into detail except to specify that it wasn’t their approach he got verbal about.
In other words, the implied message is that he told them to get tougher mentally and not gripe about the ballpark. The players I spoke to this past week weren’t griping much and were doing their best to give honest answers to what they were asked about the clear-as-day numbers differences between how they perform here versus on the road.
But honest answers don’t always play well with upper management types on this ballclub.
It’s tough to imagine any Mariners higher-ups being thrilled at seeing their ballpark maligned this past week, with honest player answers not doing anything to quell the controversy. Most of the Mariners I spoke to about Safeco Field last week on the road did not even want to make suggestions on what to do with the fences and merely offered opinions of how the ball carries and the discussions they’ve had with themselves about it.
But that alone is enough to get people talking, it appears. When Justin Smoak gives an honest assessment of how he crushed a pair of flyballs that were caught in the gaps two nights ago, it gets latched on to and the whole city is talking about the fences the next day without him even broaching the topic.
And I have a sneaking suspicion Wedge may have put an end to that type of talk today.


Just a hunch, mind you, since nobody is saying, only insinuating some of what was discussed behind closed doors.
But Seager is normally a pretty affable, talkative guy, even after a loss. He doesn’t usually shut down on any topic.
Not that it’s really important. The Mariners will put an end to the fence discussions not by refusing to take part in any, but by actually giving people a reason to stop chatting about it.
When you go from averaging seven runs per game on a tough road trip to scoring two runs per night at home — with half those games against a Padres team with the worst record in baseball — nobody is going to stop anybody from talking about Safeco Field. Not Wedge, not Chuck Armstrong, not the CIA or anybody else. It just is what it is.
What it is right now is a Mariners team that can’t score at home. Wedge keeps saying he knows his players are going to come through like they did on the road. He knows they are eventually going to score runs early in games and make the other team play catch-up all night.
But until they do, he can only silence his players.
Their actions on the field will do their talking for them and what we saw tonight screamed trouble loud and clear.
The M’s have one more home series to shut everybody up. If they can’t get it done against the Giants, they are going to face the same questions when they get back here a week from Monday.
Baseball has always been a “show me” and not a “tell me” game.
So, while the “tell me” part of the Safeco Field talk might be a lot quieter out of the clubhouse in coming weeks, the “show me” stuff is still on the Mariners. And they have a long way to go.

Comments | Topics: Hisashi Iwakuma

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