April 19, 2013 in Sports

Darvish, Rangers mow down Mariners

Geoff Baker Seattle Times
 
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ARLINGTON, Texas – Kyle Seager insisted that confidence isn’t sagging in his team’s clubhouse despite all the non-contact of late when his team swings at the baseball.

These Mariners are supposed to be able to hit the ball deeper, harder and more frequently than some of the inept squads that preceded them. And yet, with 13 more strikeouts in this 7-0 defeat Friday night to the Texas Rangers, the Mariners are actually worse at the plate than last year nearly three weeks into the season.

Counting the 14-inning affair from Wednesday night, the Mariners have whiffed 44 times in their past three games alone.

“I think confidence-wise, we’re fine,” Seager said after the Mariners lost for the seventh time in their past 10 games. “I don’t think we’ve lost confidence in each other. We still know what we’re capable of doing.”

Seager had given the Mariners one of their rare chances to score off Rangers starter Yu Darvish, lining a one-out double to left-center in the third inning. But after Craig Gentry made a leaping catch in center on a Kendrys Morales drive, the Mariners never came close again.

Jeff Baker gave the home side the only run it needed with solo homer to right-center off Joe Saunders in the second inning. Texas came alive for six runs in the fifth off Saunders, and Darvish cruised through seven innings for the victory.

The Mariners were held to five hits all night by Darvish and the bullpen, and now are batting .220 with a .285 on-base percentage and a .350 slugging percentage.

At the 18-game mark a year ago, the Mariners were hitting .233 with a .284 OBP and a .353 slugging percentage. They also were averaging 3.72 runs per game compared to 3.22 this year.

Manager Eric Wedge said the Mariners having faced Max Scherzer, Justin Verlander and Darvish on consecutive days has contributed to the higher strikeout totals. That trio finished 1-2-3 in strikeouts in the American League last season.

But Wedge also said the Mariners have to do a better job in their at-bats.

“We have faced good pitchers, but we’re a lot better than that,” he said. “We’re a lot better than that. And the one thing is with two strikes. We’ve got to do a better job with two strikes.

Seager wound up with the only extra-base hit by the Mariners. He agreed that hitting with two strikes requires a specific mindset.

“It’s a battle,” he said. “You get in there with two strikes and it’s a battle. You have to dig in there and fight. That’s basically what it comes down to and sometimes you’ll be in there fighting and they’ll surprise you with a pitch. But for the most part, you’ve got to do whatever you can to try to put the ball into play.”


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