BY John Hickey 09:14PM 04/14/2011

Same old story for Fister, no support in loss

Mariner right-hander gets a seven-inning complete game, but loses in Kansas City to fall to 0-3.

Doug Fister - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 1

Doug Fister is 0-3 in part due to crummy run support. / Ben Van Houten / Mariners

It doesn’t seem to matter who the Mariners are playing when Doug Fister is the starting pitcher.

When Fister starts, the Mariners don’t score for him. True, that was the case last year, but this year things are, if anything, worse.

Make no mistake, Fister was far from being at the top of his game in the Mariners’ eight-inning, rain-shortened 5-1 loss to Kansas City Thursday, but he didn’t get much help. He never does.

He got six hits and one run on his behalf Thursday. In his other two starts the Mariners gave him six hits and one run April 3 against the A’s and six hits and one run April 9 against the Indians.

The results? 7-1, 2-1 and 5-1 losses. Small wonder that manager Eric Wedge is first to shower Fister with praise, even after the 6-foot-8 right-hander gives up eight hits and five earned runs in seven innings.

“I think he threw a lot better than the line would indicate,’’ Wedge told the Mariner media after the game. “They (the Royals) took advantage of some opportunities. We’re just not doing anything offensively.’’

You don’t have to be named Fister to know that. The Mariners have played 13 games (4-9) and eight times they’ve scored three runs or less.

Things are so bad that Adam Kennedy, who had never had a serious at-bat as a cleanup hitter in his life, was the cleanup hitter Thursday as DH Jack Cust got the day off for the second time in three days.

Kennedy’s only previous start as a cleanup hitter came on the last day of the 2006 season when the Angels, already out of the American League West race, rested most of their regulars.

Cust, signed this winter to be the everyday DH because the Mariners got so little from that position last year, is hitting .175 with no homers and four RBIs. He was on the bench Tuesday against Toronto left-hander Ricky Romero, then found himself there again Thursday against the Royals’ Bruce Chen.

“Jack and I had a nice talk,’’ Wedge said before the game. “We’re just letting him watch the game. He’s putting a little heat on himself. He has handled everything great, but (not facing Chen) gives him a chance to watch a big league baseball game, relax and be ready late. We’ll get him right back in there (Friday).

Kennedy was insert as the cleanup hitter with Milton Bradley staying at No. 3 and Justin Smoak remaining at No. 5 because the other options aren’t good.

“I don’t think we have a true four-hole hitter right now,’’ Wedge said. “What you want to do is put somebody there who’s a veteran and swinging the bat well. That’s what Adam is doing.

As it happened, Kennedy got the Mariners’ only run home Thursday with a sacrifice fly, but it wasn’t like he fired up the offense.

No one seems to be able to do that, not even Ichiro, who had singles in each of his second and third at-bats. He has tied Royals Hall of Fame third baseman George Brett for the Kauffman Stadium record of multiple hits in nine consecutive games, and he’s hit safely in Kansas City in each of his last 15 games.

The game was started under the threat of rain, and the skies opened up about the fifth inning. The umpiring crew halted the game after the Mariners hit against Chen in the top of the eighth, scoring on Kennedy’s sacrifice fly.

The grounds crew put on a show, one of the members slipping and getting run over as the tarp went on the field. And while there was some hope that the game would be resumed, about an hour after the delay, the game was called and the Royals had handed Seattle its ninth loss in 13 games.

NOTES: Franklin Gutierrez won’t be playing at Triple-A Tacoma any time soon. Because of the wet weather in the Northwest, he will start his injury rehabilitation assignment at Class-A High Desert (San Bernardin0) Friday. … Outfielder Ryan Langerhans didn’t play Thursday. If he does play in this series, it will make the 35th different Major League ball park the nine-year veteran will have played in.

Twitter: @JHickey3


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