Trying to snap his team out of its seven-game nosedive, Mariners manager John McLaren again shuffled the batting order before Friday night's...
Trying to snap his team out of its seven-game nosedive, Mariners manager John McLaren again shuffled the batting order before Friday night’s game against Oakland.
The most notable changes were Jose Vidro moving back to second after two games hitting fifth, Adrian Beltre in the cleanup spot and the slumping Raul Ibanez hitting sixth for the first time this season
Vidro was 0 for 8 in the two-game stint, stranding eight runners on base. Beltre, meanwhile, has been one of the few positives during the losing streak, raising his average from .270 to .277. Beltre has five doubles and eight runs batted in in his last 12 at-bats.
“I’m kind of tweaking it a little bit, and seeing if we can find something,” McLaren said of the order. “Once we find something that clicks, we’re going to go with it. We’re still looking for that right combination.”
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McLaren was concerned about having three right-handed hitters in a row in the middle of the lineup, all with feast-or-famine tendencies — Jose Guillen, Beltre and Richie Sexson. Vidro was moved to fifth in part to assuage that worry.
But McLaren said Beltre “has picked up his game enormously.”
McLaren declared himself completely free of the sling that has impeded him since rotator-cuff surgery on his right shoulder in June. On Thursday, he took it off temporarily during trips to the mound and for the postgame news conference.
McLaren said he thought about tossing the sling in a bonfire to celebrate, but decided it wasn’t appropriate with his team struggling.
“If we had won eight games in a row, I’d torch it right in front of everybody, give everybody a good laugh,” he said. “But I just feel like we got good things we need to do around here, and I didn’t feel like it was the right thing to do.
“We win eight in a row, I’ll have a little ceremony and let everybody know.”
Another busted streak
For all the hype surrounding the end of J.J. Putz’s 31-save streak, a lesser-known, but also significant, bullpen milestone fell by the wayside.
Reliever George Sherrill gave up his first run at home this season — a stretch of 24 appearances over 15 innings — when Nick Swisher crushed a three-run shot on Thursday. Sherrill said Swisher was looking for an inside fastball and got it.
“It’s another day,” Sherrill said. “Yesterday was a bad one. Today’s going to be a good one.”
Sherrill has been one of the league’s most dependable setup men this year, with a 1.44 earned-run average. Sherrill said one of the big changes from last year is cutting down his walks.
Last year, Sherrill surrendered 27 in 40 innings pitched, which contributed to a 4.28 ERA. This year, through 30-1/3 innings, he has walked just six.
Ichiro near milestone
Ichiro, who singled twice, is one shy of 1,500 career hits.
He is on pace to become the third-fastest to that milestone in baseball history since 1900, behind Al Simmons (1,040) and George Sisler (1,048). Ichiro has played in 1,058 games.
• Kenji Johjima and Ichiro both expressed pleasant surprise in the clubhouse after overhearing a TV report about the Mariners’ rumored trade interest in Yankees pitcher Kei Igawa, who is also Japanese.
• With two home runs in his last three games, 1B Richie Sexson has 90 in his Mariners career, good for ninth on the all-time club list.
• Oakland 3B Eric Chavez sat out with a back injury and is expected to miss the next two to three games.
For the record
vs. AL West: 16-16
vs. L.A.: 2-7
vs. Oakland: 8-3
vs. Texas: 6-6
vs. AL East: 18-10
vs. AL Cent.: 12-11
vs. NL: 9-9
vs. LHP: 20-8
vs. RHP: 35-38
Extra innings: 3-1
Friday’s crowd: 37,643
Season total: 1,585,614
Biggest crowd: 46,340 (June 22)
Smallest crowd: 16,555 (May 2)
Average (51 dates): 31,090
2006 average (51 dates): 29,303