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July 30, 2013 at 8:29 PM

It will take patience to watch — and play for — Mariners in weeks ahead

Mariners starter Joe Saunders threw 99 pitches in five innings with some defensive lapses behind him tonight. Saunders is one of a handful of Mariners who could be on-the-move by tomorrow's trade deadline. Photo Credit: AP

Mariners starter Joe Saunders threw 99 pitches in five innings with some defensive lapses behind him tonight. Saunders is one of a handful of Mariners who could be on-the-move by tomorrow’s trade deadline. Photo Credit: AP

We’ve been told the Mariners might not be doing much by tomorrow’s trade deadline. At this point, any players hoping to win a bunch of games had best hope the team doesn’t do anything major and start moving major pieces for future returns, judging by how things went tonight.

Right now, this offense has scored two runs or fewer in three of the past four games, four of the past six and five of the past eight. Oh yeah, and 10 games ago they scored four runs despite having only one hit. So, we’re detecting a bit of an offensive slowdown. Imagine what might happen if you pull a Kendrys Morales or Raul Ibanez from that equation via trade.

The Mariners tonight looked like teams of years past, booting the ball around early and then vanishing offensively the rest of the way. They wound up losing 8-2 to the Boston Red Sox and Joe Saunders wasn’t very happy afterwards.

“I was throwing good pitches,’’ Saunders said. “I wasn’t getting much help. It was just a tough night.’’

Saunders was asked whether by “help” he meant the umpire. He said it wasn’t the ump.

“Just in general,’’ he said.

Saunders later added that he didn’t want to elaborate further.

“I’ll just get myself in trouble,’’ he said. “It was just a tough night for us. We didn’t get the breaks. They got some breaks. It was just one of those nights.’’

He didn’t mention names, but the big breaks that went against the Mariners in a 29-pitch first inning by Saunders were two misplayed grounders by shortstop Brad Miller. The first was simply a flub of a routine grounder. The second was a slow roller with the equally slow Jarrod Saltalamacchia running up the line that Miller tried to barehand. The ball bounced away.

Throw in a passed ball by catcher Henry Blanco and it wasn’t a stellar defensive inning by the Mariners and a big reason Saunders was done after throwing 99 pitches in five innings.

Mariners interim manager Robby Thompson said Miller did not need to barehand the ball. Miller agreed he should have used his glove.

“I should have gloved it for sure,’’ Miller said. “With Saltalamacchia running, I was playing pretty deep. It was a bad decision. I should have gloved it. If he beats it out, he beats it out.’’

Anyhow, the home runs hit in the second inning by Jacoby Ellsbury and Dustin Pedroia didn’t help Saunders much either. But in fairness, there did seem to be a few to many grounders getting through the infield tonight, and a blooper to right for a double that didn’t have any fielder within 20 feet of it.

That stuff can frustrate. But again, if this is to be the team the Mariners go forward with, patience is going to be a required component.

The Mariners have gotten far more out of their young infielders than they had any good reason to anticipate, and — as we all learned in recent years — growing pains come along with the tab when you’re talking about rookies.

As for Blanco, he’s a once-a-week catcher thrown into extra duty now that Mike Zunino is out and the Mariners are trying to finish off the season with what they’ve got behind the plate. The Mariners have burned through a busload of catchers already and aren’t interested in acquiring more.

They don’t seem interested in acquiring all that much outside of catchers either.

They won’t be deadline “players” like the Red Sox, who just reached a tentative deal to acquire pitcher Jake Peavy in exchange for AL Rookie of the Year candidate Jose Iglesias. For those who were writing in last week to say they’d never trade a prospect like Mariners AAA farmhand Stefen Romero for Peavy, the Iglesias deal just demonstrated what the real-world market is for a good starting pitcher and Romero isn’t part of that equation.

Is it possible Saunders gets dealt tomorrow? Perhaps. I asked him about that after the game, since he was dealt a year ago at this time. He told me he doesn’t let it enter his mind.

“It’s really out of your hands,’’ he said. “You’ve got to go out there, do your job and whatever happens, happens. If you can’t control it – and I preach that –then why are you going to worry about it? Whatever happens, I’d like to be here…these young guys are starting to come into their own and I’d like to be a part of it.’’

Well, he’s a part of it right now, the good and the bad. It will take patience for this team to get through the final two months, especially with a tougher August schedule ahead. The Mariners aren’t going to the playoffs, no matter what happens at the deadline. They are now back to six games under .500 as well, so they’re letting that whole .500 season thing slip a bit too far away once again.

Like I said, it’ll take patience. I’m not asking it of anyone, just stating the obvious. Patience for both fans and players. Because barring a massive change in plans, the team you see now is pretty much what you’re going to get the rest of the way.

Comments | More in postgame | Topics: joe saunders; brad miller; henry blanco; kendrys morales

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