With veteran hitters flailing and failing, the hottest bat in the Mariners system will get his chance to take the pressure off the pitching staff.
For viewers in Seattle who stuck around for the post-game show on TV after the Mariners 5-1 loss to the White Sox Tuesday, Eric Wedge showed some attitude.
Instead of doing his post-game interview from the visiting managers office, as Seattle managers have done in U.S. Cellular Field since the place was opened under the name of Comiskey Park, Wedge talked in the hallway in front of the entry way.
The sign on the door said, “Clubhouse closed.”
Wedge wasnt happy with his players. One way to show it was to close the door for a bit.
Another way is to open up the roster, which was done post-game by Wedge and general manager Jack Zduriencik. They called up first baseman Mike Carp from Tacoma, where his bat has been made of plutonium.
Carp, who will take the spot of outfielder Mike Wilson on the roster, has been hitting at a ferocious clip. With two homers, including a grand slam, Monday, Carp has a 22-game hitting streak in which hes averaged .433 with 11 homers and 35 RBIs. (The streak ended Tuesday when word came that he was being called up; the Rainiers pulled him out of the game after he was 0-for-1).
Meanwhile, Wedge is perturbed with the production of some of his veterans, including Ichiro Suzuki, Chone Figgins and Jack Cust, who combined to go 1-for-11 with a walk in Tuesdays loss to the White Sox. Figgins had the hit, a two-out single in the seventh, but he also grounded into the teams only double play. Cust had the walk, but didnt get the ball out of the infield otherwise and struck out twice.
Ichiro was 0-for-4 with three ground-ball outs, and left three on base.
Starting pitcher Felix Hernandez had an off-night, giving up four runs in an inning for the first time all season. But a case can be made that hes entitled. Wedge didnt mince words about his offense, which has used up its quota of entitled off-days for the season, and Seattle still has 101 games left.
“With the way weve played and the approach weve had its evident why we do well when we do and its evident on the flip side,” Wedge said. “Weve got some of these veteran offensive players that we need to be doing better, people that we are counting on that need to be doing better. Its as simple as that.
“Weve got a lot of kids up here, too, but its a whole different situation. The veterans . . . were damned near 2½ months into the season and weve got guys who need to be doing better.”
Cust has one hit in his last 13 at-bats. He’s hit a little better lately, but has just two homers, hardly what was expected from the cleanup hitter. In his last 11 games, Figgins is 3-for-41. Ichiros average has fallen from .303 to .260 while hes gone 13-for-79 (.165).
The Mariners are one game above .500 at 31-30, but thats been accomplished with the offense mostly missing in action.
It will be interesting to see how Carps addition plays out. Hes never hit much in previous short stays with Seattle. But hes hammering the ball now. Given the Mariners dearth of offense, hell get every chance to show what he can do.
A natural first baseman, hes not likely to play there much with Justin Smoak installed although Smoak has been struggling too, with eight hits in his last 47 at-bats (.170). But Carp has recently moved to left field at Tacoma and will be given a shot to play there. He could also get some time at DH for Cust.
And dare we say it? he could get in a game to two in place of Ichiro, although it would mean that Carp would play in left and Greg Halman in right for Ichiro, who hasnt missed a game all year and who has 253 consecutive games played, the second-longest active streak in the big leagues.
However it works out, its hard to see the Mariners getting less offense than they have now. After six hits Tuesday, the Mariners have seven or fewer hits in 10 of their last 12 games.
And while the pitching has been terrific, it cant consistently overcome the unrelenting lack of support.