BY John Hickey 10:34PM 10/01/2010

What’s to appreciate? M’s manage to get worse

Trying to avoid 100 losses, the M’s on Fan Appreciation Night show why it may as well be 1,000 losses

Luke French - Seattle Mariners - 2010 - 1

Luke French gets toasted on Fan Dismay Night / Ben Van Houten, Seattle Mariners

On Fan Appreciation Night at Safeco Field, it’s a good bet that the relatively few fans who showed – 19,656 was the announced crowd – did not appreciate what they saw.
The Mariners were down 1-0 before they came to the plate, and down 7-0 before they had a chance to bat in the second inning.
Desperate to win two of the four games in the final series against Oakland to avoid 100 losses, all the Mariners did was put on a startling display of how they lost the first 97 times.
Poorly executed pitching, anemic offense and less-than-memorable defense had the Mariners outscored 17-1 in the first two games, including the 9-0 debacle Friday.
Frankly, there’s not much to appreciate in that, not when the A’s, a mediocre offense at best, has five more runs than the Mariners have hits.
Nor is there appreciation for the fact that one of the club’s two bright spots this season, right-handed starter Felix Hernandez, isn’t being given a chance to pitch in front of the home folk Sunday. He’s being replaced by Ryan Rowland-Smith.
Permitting Hernandez to pitch — he was instead shut down to avoid an injury in a meaningless game — would be one way to show the fans a little appreciation. That’s not going to happen. It’s one more disappointment for fans who have gotten used to such things.
Oakland is 11th in the league in runs scored, but for the first two nights of this series, interested spectators have been duped into believing the A’s know how to hit with the best. The reality is that Doug Fister Thursday and Luke French Friday couldn’t make quality pitches on demand, and they paid the price against an offense that hadn’t scored eight runs in consecutive games all year until now.
A’s first baseman Daric Barton made French pay, hitting a solo home run in the first inning, then capping a six-run second inning with just the second grand slam of the season for the A’s.
“It really wasn’t my night,’’ French said in the quiet of the Seattle clubhouse. “Obviously, they hit the ball hard off me. It’s going to happen. And it’s not very fun.
“It’s not the way I wanted to end my season, but you have to move on.’’
That last remark could apply to most of the rest of the roster.
Sometime in the next 72 hours, it’s likely that general manager Jack Zduriencik will come to a final decision on whether he retains interim manager Daren Brown, who is 19-29 since taking over for Don Wakamatsu on Aug. 9.
Under Wakamatsu the Mariners were 22 games out of first place. They are 28 out entering the weekend. Wakamatsu’s winning percentage this year was .375, and while Brown’s is better (.396), the improvement is only marginal – the matter of one win, to be exact.
It hasn’t been a fair way to judge Brown, giving him about 50 games, but then it wasn’t a ly fair way to judge Wakamatsu, saddling him with a team without hope of scoring runs.
Friday’s shutout was the 15th thrown against the Mariners this year, 10 under Wakamatsu’s watch and five under Brown.
No matter the decision on Brown and his coaching staff, thumbs-up or thumbs-down won’t make a difference unless and until the front office populates  the lineup with some genuine offensive stars.
Ichiro is one – the only one at this point – but that’s no solution. Ichiro collected his 211th hit of the season Friday, and also walked But he didn’t score. He reached base 259 times this year – 211 hits, 45 walks, three hit by pitch – and scored 73 runs.
As a counterpoint, Arizona’s Mark Reynolds, who has the fewest hits (100) of all major leaguers with enough at-bats to qualify for the batting title, scored 79 runs.
Clearly the Mariners are stranding Ichiro on base way too often. Until that changes, whatever plans Zduriencik has for a field manager is of secondary importance.


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