CHICAGO — Manager Lloyd McClendon was more than aware that the best team in baseball got significantly better late Friday night.
The news of the Oakland Athletics blockbuster trade that got them Chicago Cubs’ ace Jeff Samardzija and fellow starting pitcher Jason Hammel was circulating throughout baseball. The Mariners, who will play the A’s on their next homestand, were impressed with the move.
“That’s a real good team that got better,” McClendon said. “Obviously, those are two fine young pitchers. They did a nice job of pulling that one off. They’re a good team. Their record indicates that. They’ve gotten better. I don’t think that really changes anything as far as we are concerned. We just have to continue to go about our business and do what we do.”
Corey Hart has faced Samardzija often in the National League when he was with Milwaukee. He knows the type of pitcher the A’s acquired.
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“He’s really good,” Hart said. “But it’s kind of surprising cause I thought their pitching was already pretty good.”
Indeed, the A’s staff has been solid all season. But Samardzija gives them a top-of-the-line starter to go with Sonny Gray and Scott Kazmir for a playoff series.
Meanwhile, the Mariners’ search for offensive help on the trade market continues. The need is for at least one right-handed hitter, if not two.
McClendon has mentioned the Mariners’ “BB gun” offense often in the past month. But it’s not some subtle hint to general manager Jack Zduriencik.
“Jack and I talk every day about ways to improve our club,” McClendon said. “But you have to understand that it takes two to tango. It’s got to make sense. This organization has a bright future. We have a tremendous minor-league organization with a lot of good prospects, and I don’t think Jack or upper management is ready to sell the farm, so to speak, for rent-a-players, and I don’t blame them. I wouldn’t do that, either.
“It has to be the type of trades that make sense for this organization, that will continue to move us in the right direction. Do we have challenges? Yes. Are we trying to fix them? Yeah. We’ll just see.”
The Mariners are buying, but not everyone is selling … yet.
“The problem that we have now is the second wild card,” McClendon said. “There are so many teams still involved, and nobody is willing to make those trades. So it makes it very difficult because teams consider themselves still in it, and rightfully so. We have to be very intelligent about what we do.”
• Speaking of midseason trades, Charlie Furbush is the only remaining player from the regrettable Doug Fister trade. Reliever Chance Ruffin retired from baseball on Friday. Ruffin was with the Rainiers all season and had a 3-3 record with a 5.31 earned-run average. In 2011, the Mariners sent Fister and reliever David Pauley to the Tigers in exchange for Furbush, Ruffin, outfielder Casper Wells and prospect Fernando Martinez.
• The Mariners have decided to make an adjustment to the starting rotation. They will give Felix Hernandez an extra day off and he’ll start Friday night against the A’s in a huge American League West showdown. The Mariners starter for Thursday’s game against the Twins has yet to be announced.
• Logan Morrison went 3 for 6 for his sixth multi-hit game of the season. He has a hit in nine straight games and has pushed his season average up to .260.