When his team was in the midst of a eight-game losing streak in mid-April, manager Lloyd McClendon refused to make a determination of what his team was or wasn’t at that point in the season.
With everything seemingly going wrong, there was a growing consensus that the Mariners were a flawed bunch destined for yet another miserable season.
But McClendon wouldn’t give in to reactionary thinking. On numerous occasions during that stretch, he said he wouldn’t have an idea of what his team could or couldn’t be until after 50 games.
On Monday, the Mariners played their 50th game of the 2014 season — a 5-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels at Safeco Field.
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So now what does McClendon think of his team?
“I learned a long time ago that you are never as good as you think you are and you are never as bad as think you are, you’re usually somewhere in the middle,” McClendon said. “After 50 games, we are somewhere in the middle. I like where we are.”
Well, the Mariners’ 25-25 record puts them in the middle at .500.
McClendon admitted it could be better.
“Our pitching is our foundation and we need to catch the ball,” he said. “It’s something we talked about in the spring, that if we caught the ball and executed on defense and didn’t give teams extra outs, we’d be a very competitive club. I think you’ve seen instances — I think maybe four or five times where we didn’t do a very good job of catching the ball. And as a result, we lost those games.”
The Mariners are far from a finished product. Injuries to the starting rotation have been an issue, forcing McClendon to patch it up as best he can. The team still is far from an offensive juggernaut and in need of a decent right-handed bat, particularly with Corey Hart out for at least six weeks.
But McClendon is still upbeat about the possibilities.
“I like my team,” he said. “I like where we are. I’ve said before, is there room for improvement? Of course there is. But that’s a gutsy bunch out there. They show up every day. And it’s nice to look in their eyes and know they aren’t afraid of their opponent. They go about their business the right way.”
Cano keeps hitting
Robinson Cano singled in his first three plate appearances Monday. The first two hits drove in runs. He finished the day 3 for 4, upping his average .332 on the season, second in the American League.
“It was just one of those times where you have to take advantage of the opportunities,” he said. “That’s what you want. That’s the little things you have to do.”
It was his 21st multi-hit game of the season and the Mariners are 15-6 when he has two or more hits in a game.
“All you ever hear is Robby is struggling,” McClendon said. “He’s almost leading the league in hitting with 30-plus RBI. I think he’s doing pretty good.”
• After batting lower in the order the past few games, McClendon moved Michael Saunders back to the No. 2 spot, and the outfielder responded, going 2 for 3 with two runs scored and an RBI triple in the game. Saunders has hit safely in eight of his last nine games with four multi-hit games. He’s hitting. 394 (13 for 33) with a double, two triples, a homer and 10 RBI in that span.
• Seattle stole three bases in the game, tying a season high. James Jones stole his fourth base in 22 games. He is tied for the team lead with four with Cano.
• The Mariners will have groups of players and coaches visiting five local schools as part of Education Day and the D.R.E.A.M. Team program, which stresses the importance of the D.R.E.A.M. principles: Drug-free, Respect for yourself and others, Education through reading, Attitude, and Motivation to achieve your dreams.
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @RyanDivish