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May 21, 2013 at 11:52 PM

Mariners need to help themselves out this time

Aaron Harang gives up his second of seven extra-base hits allowed in just 3 2/3 innings, a two-run homer by Josh Hamilton in the first inning. Photo Credit: AP

Aaron Harang gives up his second of seven extra-base hits allowed in just 3 2/3 innings, a two-run homer by Josh Hamilton in the first inning. Photo Credit: AP

Sometimes, as in what happened this past weekend in Cleveland, there isn’t much a coaching staff or front office can do. Players are the ones who play and when they lose games because of walkoff home runs, or dropped balls, or whatever, that falls under the guise of on-field stuff and we all know that stuff happens.

But sometimes, there are things a team can do to help. The back end of this Mariners starting rotation has been a shaky loose link for most of the season with a few points of stability. Tonight wasn’t one of those stable moments. The Mariners lost 12-0 and were down 7-0 by the fourth inning when starting pitcher Aaron Harang gave an extra-base hit clinic — and not from the side you want to be giving one of those.

Nope, he was on the mound, unfortunately. By the time that inning was done, he’d given up a home run, two triples and two doubles — in the same inning.

That’s not the kind of pitching a winning team needs. The Mariners, unfortunately, need better than that every five days. They need it because the bullpen is going to get torched otherwise before the season is even halfway over and this clu’s shot at a winning record will go out the window as well if it keeps punting games at one or more rotation slots.

Thursday is an off-day, so the front office will no longer have the continuity of games as an excuse for inaction.

They can make a switch and bring back Hector Noesi, or promote Jeremy Bonderman. Neither option is really all that thrilling. But neither is the prospect of watching any more of this.

At this stage, Bonderman makes sense because a DFA of Harang would free up the 40-man roster spot needed to add Bonderman to the roster. The Mariners have to make a call on Bonderman by June 1, or he can become a free agent if not added to the big league club.

Noesi isn’t going anywhere. He got hit hard in AAA tonight and can still be added at any time without 40-man roster worries.

“We’ll have to talk about that,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “You can’t keep putting this kind of heat on the bullpen. You want to give everybody ample opportunity, but having said that, you can’t keep doing what we’re doing and expect to compete.’’

And this is exactly what it all boils down to — giving the Mariners a chance to win. Harang didn’t do that tonight. The back end of the rotation hasn’t done that on too many nights this season.

You have guys in that cluhouse busting their tails and taking gut-wrenching losses in Cleveland. Just throwing this game away was like a kick in the gut for them.

You can’t point fingers at an offense when it trails 3-0 after one and 7-0 after four. A major league team needs major league pitching. The Mariners cut some corners in the rotation this winter and are getting what they paid for at times.

Now, they have to try to fix it. If they send Harang back out there, they’d best pray he turns it around. If not, they will have set themselves up big time with the bullseye smack dab on their forehead.

For Harang’s part, he feels he has more left to show the Mariners.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting the repetition,’’ he said. “I had the stints off and as a pitcher you have to stay sharp, to keep throwing. Obviously, that hinders you. So, I think it’s just a matter of being out there and throwing my pitches and getting my feel back.’’

He added: “It’s tough to get into game speed when you just keep throwing bullpens. So, I’ve got to keep grinding and I know I can get back to where I need to be. It’s just a matter of getting the repetition in there and getting that muscle memory back.’’

Harang may be telling the truth. It just may be that he does have more left to show. But he might be showing it someplace else.

At this point, after tonight, he has no reason to expect the Mariners will keep sending him back out there.


Comments | More in rotation | Topics: aaron harang; eric wedge; jack zduriencik; jeremy bonderman


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