July 7, 2011 in Sports

Mariners’ hitting woes hit rock bottom

Geoff Baker Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

Athletics catcher Kurt Suzuki catches a popup by Dustin Ackley, one of seven hit by the Mariners.
(Full-size photo)

OAKLAND, Calif. – Missed opportunities can eat away at teams on the verge of contention.

Not that the Mariners had all that many opportunities Wednesday. They managed just two singles and a walk worth of offense. Throw in seven infield pop-outs and the Mariners’ 2-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics has to rank as perhaps their low point at the plate this season.

So low that the Mariners promoted red-hot Triple-A third baseman Kyle Seager after the game while designating catcher Jose Yepez for assignment. Seager hit .455 in two weeks in Tacoma after getting a promotion from Double-A.

The latest waste of quality starting pitching, this time by Jason Vargas, had Mariners manager Eric Wedge placing blame on his hitters.

“I always put it on us,” Wedge said of his struggling offense, manhandled for seven innings by A’s starter Guillermo Moscoso. “Every now and again, you’ll run into a buzz saw. But a day like today, I didn’t feel like that was the case. I mean, the guy did a good job, but I feel like we’re a lot better than what you saw. … I know we’ve been inconsistent. We’ve had our struggles offensively all year, but still, it has to be on us.”

Moscoso got all the run support needed in front of 19,491 fans at the Coliseum when Scott Sizemore hit a home run to left field in the first inning off a Jason Vargas fastball. In the fifth, Sizemore delivered a two-out, run-scoring single after a Vargas balk.

Vargas lost despite an eight-inning complete game. He’s the third Mariners pitcher in five days saddled with a defeat or a no-decision despite allowing fewer than three runs in at least eight innings.

“We didn’t really do anything against him,” Vargas said of Moscoso. “It was just a matter of keeping us in the ballgame.”

Now, it will be a matter of keeping the Mariners in this division race before the All-Star break. With its chance for a sweep thwarted, the Mariners head to Anaheim for four games.

The Mariners have scored three runs or fewer in 18 of their past 25 games, one reason Seager, 23, is on his way up.

Seager’s promotion came far sooner than expected. The third-round pick from the 2009 draft played Class-A ball last season.

But the Mariners need somebody else to play third base so that they don’t burn out Adam Kennedy. Kennedy has seen more action there in recent weeks with Chone Figgins on the bench.

Kennedy got a rest of sorts as designated hitter Wednesday, while Figgins was given a rare start at third. Figgins committed a fifth-inning error by mishandling a ground ball and also went hitless, though he did draw the team’s lone walk.

Over his past 10 games, Figgins is just 1 for 25 (.040).

Moscoso baffled the M’s, who hit the ball squarely early but then reverted to pop-outs and weak ground-ers.

“We should be able to make adjustments and we just didn’t do that,” said Kennedy, who had one of two hits off Moscoso. “We didn’t get on top of the ball or get the ball down in the zone. We just didn’t get it done.”

One more game of anemic offense was apparently all Wedge and general manager Jack Zdurienik needed to convince them to make a move four games before the All-Star break.

“We’re still really fighting to get these guys to be more consistent,” Wedge said. “Whether it be throughout the course of a ballgame or from day to day. We keep looking to see what we can do.”

Notes

Wedge was asked before the game about what he’s seen in outfielder Carlos Peguero, who keeps getting starts in left field despite entering the day with a .198 batting average and a growing strikeout total. “I love his aggressiveness,” Wedge said. “But obviously, it’s a little bit over the top, too. He gets a little jumpy up there at times.” Peguero struck out three times Wednesday, lowering his average to .194. … Vargas pitched his fourth complete game of the season. … Dustin Ackley had a second-inning single and has hit safely in eight of his past nine games. … Ichiro Suzuki went 0 for 4 and had his hitting streak in Oakland snapped at 10 games.

Athletics 2, Mariners 0

Seattle ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
I.Suzuki rf 400000.274
Ryan ss 400000.248
A.Kennedy dh 401000.264
Smoak 1b 300001.241
Ackley 2b 301001.302
Peguero lf 300003.194
F.Gutierrez cf 300000.180
J.Bard c 300000.200
Figgins 3b 200010.183
Totals 2902015
Oakland ABRHBIBBSOAvg.
J.Weeks 2b 401000.305
Sizemore 3b 412202.280
Crisp cf 401000.266
Matsui dh 300011.214
Carter 1b 300002.182
Sweeney lf 000000.285
Jackson lf-1b 300000.248
DeJesus rf 300001.221
K.Suzuki c 300000.222
Pennington ss 311000.239
Totals 3025216
Seattle 000000000—023
Oakland 10001000x—250

E—Figgins (10), Ryan (7), Smoak (7). LOB—Seattle 3, Oakland 5. HR—S.Sizemore (3). RBIs—S.Sizemore 2 (16). SB—J.Weeks (7). CS—DeJesus (2). RLISP—Oakland 3.

Seattle IPHRERBBSOERA
Vargas L,6-6 8522163.49
Oakland IPHRERBBSOERA
Moscoso W,3-4 7200152.16
Devine H,6 1000002.25
A.Bailey S,8-9 1000001.26

Balk—Vargas. T—2:12. A—19,491 (35,067).


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