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Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

May 11, 2013 at 10:54 PM

M’s can’t get the clutch hit they need

Justin Smoak celebrates his seventh-inning run that pulled the Mariners within one. Photo by Associated Press

Justin Smoak celebrates his seventh-inning run that pulled the Mariners within one. Photo by Associated Press

The Mariners put constant pressure on the A’s over the final three innings tonight with eight base-runners. But just one of those scored as the M’s stranded two in the seventh, three in the eighth, and two more in the ninth. So after mounting a comeback from being down 3-0 in the fifth to pull within one, they lost 4-3.

Seattle also lost a chance to move past the A’s into second place in the AL West as the A’s snapped a five-game losing streak.

“We had so many opportunities those last three innings,’’ manager Eric Wedge said. “Everyone was working real hard to create opportunities to at least tie the ballgame, and probably end up doing more being at home. A few guys stepped up, a few guys didn’t. I loved the fight. There was a lot of fight there. Guys were in it all the way to the end and made them work real hard for that win. But ultimately they got it done.”

The Mariners best chance came when Michael Morse stepped to the plate with one out in the eighth and runners on the corners. All he needed was a fly ball to tie the game, but facing Ryan Cook, Morse struck out. And when Justin Smoak followed with a walk to load the bases, Endy Chavez also struck out.

In the ninth, off Oakland closer Grant Balfour, Kelly Shoppach walked with one out. But  Robert Andino struck out on three pitches. Michael Saunders kept Seattle alive with a single that moved Shoppach to second. Balfour went 3-0 on Kyle Seager and threw a pitch I thought was high enough to be ball four, which would have brought up Kendrys Morales with the bases loaded. But it went for a called strike, and Seager grounded out to second on the next pitch to end the game.

I’m going to make this one brief, but one final thought: I just can’t believe the Mariners can go much longer with their current shortstop situation. Brendan Ryan looks completely and totally lost at the plate. He flied out and struck out before being pinch-hit for, his average dropping to .128. And Andino’s strikeout dropped his average to .167.

It’s time to try something new, like bringing up either Carlos Triunfel or Nick Franklin from Tacoma. Franklin is now sitting .340/.464/.510, but if the Mariners really can’t stomach his defense at shortstop, then give a shot to Triunfel, who is hitting .295. Personally, I’d like to see what Franklin can do. The time has arrived.

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