Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon called Robinson Cano getting picked off at first base on Thursday a “mistake.”

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Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon called Robinson Cano getting picked off at first base on Thursday a “mistake.”

Cano’s single in a 2-1 loss to the Rays produced the Mariners’ only run and put runners on the corners with one out, but he was picked off with Nelson Cruz at bat and Kyle Seager on deck. The Mariners didn’t get any more runs that inning or in the game.

“It was a mistake. He turned his head,” McClendon said. “I would like to think that it cost us. Hell, the way we’ve been swinging, I’m not sure it did. You like to think that, but I’ve always said this: We want to make a deal about that play. It hurt. But one thing doesn’t make you lose a game. It never does. We had many, many opportunities.

“I’m not going to put all that on Robbie. He made a mistake. You learn from it and move on.”

Cano said after the game that Rays pitcher Erasmo Ramirez surprised him and he got caught crossing his feet while leading off. McClendon said Cano was looking at where the outfielders were positioned — a customary baserunning tactic, with one exception.

“He was checking the outfielders, but you’re supposed to check the outfielders when you’re on first base,” McClendon said. “Not when you’re off the bag.”

Cano’s mistake came just hours after McClendon gave his team a pregame talk about baserunning. McClendon had his team huddled around him before Thursday’s game and took them to each base.

First baseman Logan Morrison said the takeaway was that the Mariners had to do a better job on the bases. He said McClendon talked about stealing bases, knowing when to tag, taking the extra base and going from first to third.

“If we’re struggling to score runs, it’s not only because we’re not getting the job done at the plate,” Morrison said. “It’s because we’re not getting the job done on the bases, either.”

The numbers are grim. In the eight games the Mariners have played this homestand going into Friday’s game, they are 10 for 62 (.161 average) with runners in scoring position.

Not coincidentally, the Mariners are also 1-7 this homestand and haven’t scored more than three runs in any game.

Morrison had a theory for the Mariners’ struggles with runners in scoring position.

“We strike out a lot so it’s tough to situation hit with a runner on second, nobody out and getting the guy over,” Morrison said. “Then when you get the guy over and the next guy has to get him in. If one of those two is a strikeout, then it puts a lot of pressure on the other guy to drive him in.”

A couple of perfect examples happened Thursday. Seager led off the fourth inning with a double, then watched the next three batters strike out. In the ninth, the Mariners had a runner on second with one out, but Austin Jackson and Cano struck out.

“I don’t know if it’s limiting the strikeouts or just hitting homers,” Morrison said. “I feel like you walk or hit homers now. That’s what the new thing is. That’s what the Astros do. I don’t know what it is.”

The Mariners don’t walk much; they came into Friday’s game ranked 28th in the majors with a collective .297 on-base percentage, ahead of only the last-place Phillies and Brewers.

The Mariners made a move to address their offensive struggles by trading for power-hitting Mark Trumbo. But Trumbo’s career .298 OBP likely won’t help the Mariners’ on-base percentage.

“Listen, we have guys that are paid to get on base that are not getting on base right now,” McClendon said. “Trumbo is paid to drive them in. Last time I checked, he does a pretty good job of that. I get it. I get the whole thing about on-base (percentage). I believe in it.

“There are three things that are important: getting on base, driving them in and scoring runs. You’ve got to have people to do them all, and he’s one of those people to drive them in.”

McClendon confirmed that outfielders Rickie Weeks and Dustin Ackley will have diminished roles with the addition of Trumbo. Trumbo will likely move around, serving as DH some, playing the outfield and also playing a little first base.


• Jackson got the night off Friday to give him some rest, McClendon said. Jackson battled an ankle injury earlier this season, and while that hasn’t given him many problems, McClendon said he wants to keep Jackson fresh.

• Morrison was a late scratch from Thursday’s lineup because of back spasms, but he played first and led off Friday and said his back felt better.