Seattle's Fab Five rookies hit .152 with 15 strikeouts during the three-game sweep at Safeco Field.
After watching the Mariners stagger to a 9-3 loss to the White Sox on Sunday at Safeco Field, manager Eric Wedge said bluntly, “Today was a bad day of baseball for us.”
The Mariners, of course, have had more than their share of those this season. Wedge, in particular, didn’t like his team’s offensive approach, a familiar refrain that had not been heard as much for the past month.
“We made some easy outs,” he said.
But with five rookies playing key roles in the Seattle lineup, Wedge is hoping their inevitable ups and downs will lead to growth in the long run. And suddenly, after the rookies were rightly lauded for their prowess in an offensively potent series in Cleveland, the rookies are in an unmistakable down spell.
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On Sunday, while getting stymied by Chicago’s Gavin Floyd, the four rookies in Seattle’s lineup — Dustin Ackley, Casper Wells, Kyle Seager and Trayvon Robinson — went a combined 2 for 16 with seven strikeouts.
Throw in Mike Carp, who got a rest on Sunday, and the Fab Five were 7 for 46 (.152) with 15 strikeouts during the White Sox’s three-game sweep.
The next step, of course, is to see how they respond. To Wedge, it’s a perennial test that every rookie has to deal with.
“You come over here, and you get 30, 40, 50 at-bats, and then there’s a book on you,” he said. “You have a little success, and there’s more of a book on you. This is big-league baseball — they’re going to attack those holes. They’re going to attack you with some experience and video and some scouting reports. Now it’s up to these kids to make the adjustment back.”
Wedge noted that the advance scouting and video technology is so sophisticated nowadays that rookies can’t sneak past anyone. It’s a far cry even from his own playing days in the early 1990s.
“Oh my god, it’s night and day,” he said. “If someone has one AB in the big leagues, we’re going to get it on video, we’re going to have someone there that was watching it. The video is so advanced now, it really is a legitimate part of the game.”
The Mariners had a streak of 21 scoreless innings snapped by Josh Bard’s two-run homer in the eighth off Floyd, and managed just five runs the entire series. By the time of Bard’s homer off the foul pole in right, the White Sox had built a 9-0 lead off Mariners starter Jason Vargas, buoyed by a three-run homer from Dayan Viciedo and a grand slam from Tyler Flowers.
Robinson acknowledged that pitchers are attacking him differently.
“They are — they’re trying to get in there (inside),” he said. “You’ve got to give them one side of the plate. That’s just how it is. If he’s commanding all his pitches, you have to tip your cap to him. There’s always one pitch that’s not working, a majority of the time. But today, Floyd had his off speed and his fastball working, going in and out.”
Robinson is 1 for 11 since his six-hit day in last Tuesday’s doubleheader at Cleveland. Carp is hitting .167 with 17 strikeouts in 42 at-bats in his past 10 games. Wells is 5 for 34 (.147) with 16 strikeouts in his past nine games.
And Ackley, over his past 22 games, is hitting .214 (18 for 84) with 24 strikeouts. His North Carolina teammate, Seager, says not to worry.
“Dustin’s going to be fine,” he said. “He’s a great hitter. I’m not worried about Dustin at all. He knows how to hit. He’s going to be fine.”
Every player goes through ebbs and flows, of course, but it tends to be more pronounced with rookies, as opponents hone in on perceived weaknesses.
“They have to recognize it, and go out and take it away from them,” said Wedge.
“That’s what’s going to happen when you have a young team,” added Brendan Ryan. “We’re going to make mistakes. Our job is to learn from them.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org