Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon, and his team for that matter, know the offense is struggling, that it isn’t producing at a clip conducive to winning.
That much isn’t in doubt. But what McClendon disputes is that this recent skid points to something being wrong with his offense, which did little again in a 2-0 loss Tuesday to the Twins.
The Mariners haven’t scored more than three runs in their last five games. They are just 2 for 36 with runners in scoring position during that stretch, including an 0-for-4 night against the Twins.
“You can make out of it what you want,” McClendon said. “For me, it’s five games. We have an eternity. We’ll be OK.”
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Third baseman Kyle Seager agreed with his manager, for this reason: “I think that would be the difference between this year and previous ones. The confidence level in here. With the guys we’ve got in here, just the way they keep themselves up, the veteran guys in here and the presence they have. We know how good we are. We know how good we’re going to be. And we don’t panic.”
The Mariners’ offense has toed the line between “just enough” and “not good enough” for most of the season. This is the same offense that just a week ago scored more than 10 runs in back-to-back games, and even if that is more an aberration than the norm, it’s worth remembering.
The Mariners managed eight hits against Minnesota, the same number the Twins had, but couldn’t cash any of them in or string them together. Their best chance, or at least the one with the most promise, came in the eighth inning.
Trailing 2-0, Michael Saunders and James Jones singled with one out. That brought up the guy you would want at the plate in that situation, Robinson Cano. But in a fitting display of just how much Seattle’s offense is slumping, Cano grounded into a double play to end the inning.
Besides that, there was a one-out double by Logan Morrison in the fourth that produced nothing when Corey Hart popped out to the catcher and Dustin Ackley struck out. And there was Hart’s leadoff single to start the seventh inning that evaporated when Ackley grounded into a double play.
The Mariners haven’t gotten a hit with runners in scoring position in four of their last five games.
“I love our approaches,” McClendon said of hitting with runners in scoring position. “The results were not there.”
The shame of it is it meant another Mariners starter exited without much run support. Chris Young turned in another quality start. He lasted seven innings, gave up six hits, had six strikeouts and allowed only two runs.
“Coming into spring training, I didn’t know what to expect,” McClendon said. “But I couldn’t have expected this. He’s been outstanding.”
In the fifth inning, with two outs, Young fell behind in the count to Sam Fuld, the Twins’ No. 9 hitter. Fuld made him pay by hitting a solo homer that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.
“Falling behind was a mistake,” Young said. “The pitch wasn’t necessarily a mistake. I was just challenging the No. 9 hitter with a 3-2 fastball, but falling behind him was (a mistake).”
The other mistake Young was lamenting after the game was walking the leadoff hitter, Eduardo Escobar, to start the eighth inning. Young then gave up a single to Fuld before McClendon pulled him.
Reliever Yoervis Medina got the first hitter he faced to fly out to left field, but Ackley’s throw home wasn’t in time, and the Twins stretched their lead to 2-0.
That proved excessive against the Mariners on Tuesday.