September 3, 2013 in Sports

Mariners struggle, stumble

Geoff Baker Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

Felix Hernandez, who left in the seventh with a “spasm,” got no support from the M’s.
(Full-size photo)

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A calendar is part of any manager’s toolbox for setting pitcher schedules, projecting the return of injured players and generally just planning ahead.

But for Mariners manager Eric Wedge, his calendar now doubles as a nagging alarm bell going off inside his brain. One look at it tells him there are four weeks left in a season in which his Mariners, beaten 3-1, on Monday by the Kansas City Royals, look to already be staggering toward the finish.

Wedge didn’t need a reminder of the date after seeing his team held to just one run in its last 27 innings.

“We’ve got a lot of guys here that have got to continue to learn how to play the game,” Wedge said.

“And understand what it takes to win a ballgame.”

The Mariners have seen steady positives amid the foibles of young players, most notably raw rookies Brad Miller and Nick Franklin. But Wedge seemed to acknowledge Monday that he’s getting tired of mistakes and nonperformance from other corners.

The Mariners have been owned by left-handed starters all season and Monday were again limited by Danny Duffy before his rising pitch count forced him out by the fourth inning.

Then the Mariners did nothing off reliever Will Smith, a left-handed spot-starter who retired 13 of 14 batters and struck out eight. The only hit Seattle managed was a Kyle Seager fly ball center fielder Jarrod Dyson lost in the sun for a double.

For Wedge, on a day the Mariners had Felix Hernandez on the mound, that lack of offensive support won’t cut it.

Wedge suggested it was time for Justin Smoak, Dustin Ackley, Seager and Michael Saunders to shed their “kid”‘ labels and show the consistency needed for the team to make it through September. The Mariners have dropped eight of 11.

“I know we’ve got some young kids out there, but still, the Smoaks, the Ackleys, the Saunders and the Seagers, those guys have been around here for a little bit,” Wedge said. “They need to be doing better.”

Seager had three of the six Seattle hits and has done well on the trip. But Ackley is 0 for 16 since his four-hit game Thursday, Smoak is 1 for 12 on the trip and Saunders 2 for 11.

Hernandez, who felt a spasm in his side during an at-bat by Alex Gordon in the seventh, had to leave the game.

“It’s just a cramp, I think, but it will be OK,” Hernandez said.

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