BY John Hickey 04:01PM 04/16/2011

Wedge lectures M’S after latest tumble, 7-0

After learning that Franklin Gutierrez isn’t coming back any time soon, Mariners strand 11 runners against Royals, extending a pattern.

Eric Wedge had some harsh words for his team after 7-0 loss to Royals Saturday. / Getty Images

The Mariners’ bats were silent once again Saturday in a 7-0 loss to Kansas City.

Eric Wedge, who has mostly held his tongue in the midst of a miserable start to the season for Seattle, wasn’t.

He used one of his managerial prerogatives after the game to keep the clubhouse closed while he roasted his players with more than a couple of curt observations.

“I had a few choice words for them,’’ Wedge told the media after the clubhouse opened to the media. “I’m not real happy right now. I made it very clear as to how we’re going to go about our business.’’

There’s not much for Wedge to be happy about. His team is on a four-game losing streak and has already had a seven-gamer to its discredit.

The team left 11 men on base Saturday and has left 116 men on for the season, the most in the Major Leagues. Seattle went 0-for-9 with men in scoring position Saturday in a game started by Kansas City starter/reliever Sean O’Sullivan, who came into the game with an 11.57 ERA for the year and a career ERA of close to 6.00.

For the series, the Mariners were 2-for-23 with men in scoring position and for the season they have just 22 hits in 121 chances with men in scoring position.

“We just didn’t play good baseball at all today,’’ Wedge said. “It’s the same thing, different day, and that’s unacceptable. We’re not going to keep watching this. We’re going to get better and we’re going to address it, obviously, as we’ve been doing as a team and individually, but we’re going to get better. We’re not going to keep doing what we’ve been doing here.’’

Asked what he could or did say to his players, Wedge said that doing work on the side isn’t enough. The work has to be translated into performance on the field.

“You’re doing the work, but ultimately you’ve got to take it into the game,’’ the manager said. “I want them to have the mindset that’s aggressive and such to where we’re up there ready for anything – anything and everything. Whether it be at home plate or out in the field or wherever it may be.

“I don’t want to be in-between. In-between doesn’t win ballgames.’’

It was already a depressing day for Seattle, which has had its medical team determine that center fielder Franklin Gutierrez is nowhere near being ready to return. He was supposed to spend this weekend on an injury rehabilitation assignment, but his stomach problems have not really abated, and now the Mariners are trying to decide just what medical options are available to them.

He was scratched from scheduled starts Friday and Saturday and the Mariners have had to put thoughts of any quick return for the Gold Glove winner on hold.

Then the Mariners went out and lost their fourth straight and 11th in their first 15 games. Unable to solve O’Sullivan and his 11.25 ERA, Seattle rolled over one more time for the Royals.

The scenario was much the same as in the first 15 games – lots of runners at first and second, with three even making it to third. None of their spikes dented the plate, however.

It’s not an unfamiliar scenario, hence Wedge’s displeasure.

The Mariners have left an average of 7.7 runners on base per game, which speaks volumes about their improved walks stats, but echoes far louder about the lack of any RBI bats in the Seattle lineup. In the first three games against the Royals, the hitters have left 25 men on base. Seven times they’ve left two or more men on. Seattle hitters went 0-for-9 with men in scoring position Saturday.

“I don’t think we’ve been in it for a little while in regard to what I’ve been seeing,’’ Wedge said. “We’ve done an OK job of getting runners on base. But we’re leaving about eight to 10 on when we do that. You’ve got to finish off ABs. You’ve got to finish off innings.’

“We’ve got to stick together on this. But we just didn’t play good baseball at all today. That’s what (ticks) me off more than anything. We just didn’t play very good baseball.’’

The Mariners actually got one decent at-bat with a man in scoring position. However, right fielder Ichiro Suzuki’s bid for a run-scoring one-out single that would have tied the game at 1-all in the third inning was muzzled by Kansas City shortstop Alcides Escobar. With the Mariners already counting themselves tied, Escobar ranged a couple of strides to his left, stopped the ball with a flat-out dive worthy of any highlight film, jumped up and threw out Ichiro at first on a bang-bang play.

It turned out that would be the closest Seattle starter Felix Hernandez, victimized by a wind-blown double in the second that cost him a run, would get to receiving run support.

The Mariners loaded the bases with one out an inning later on hits by Jack Cust and Justin Smoak and O’Sullivan’s walk to Luis Rodriguez, but Michael Saunders flew out to left field without Cust being able to tag up, then Chris Gimenez struck out.

Hernandez gave up a single off Smoak’s glove at first that resulted in the Royals adding a run in the bottom of the fourth on a sacrifice fly, and in the fifth the Seattle defense hurt Hernandez again. Chone Figgins got things going with a one-out error and the big blow of the inning came with two out when Ryan Langerhans, who has been sharing time in center with Saunders with Gutierrez on the disabled list, couldn’t track down a wind-tortured deep fly from Alex Gordon, who wound up as a two-run double and the centerpiece of a three-run inning.

All the runs were unearned, but that wasn’t much consolation for Hernandez, who hasn’t won since opening day. And on a cold, wet day with his ace already in a five-run hole and the offense (and defense) going nowhere, Wedge decided enough was enough after 90 pitches, leaving some extra pitches in Hernandez’s arm for his next start Thursday in Seattle against the A’s.

“We have to keep telling each other to keep working hard,’’ Hernandez said when asked what the players say to each other. “We have to keep trying to hit, keep trying to pitch.

“I definitely had pretty good stuff today. I made good pitches. I did everything I can do.’’

It’s a good bet that Gutierrez, who hasn’t played in a game since March 19 in the middle of the Cactus League season, won’t be back in time for Hernandez’s next appearance.

Wedge said that Gutierrez would have a couple of good days, then a day or two when his stomach issues would act up again. Something has to be done for the center fielder, who has been battling the still-unsolved stomach issues for almost a year now.

“I think we’re going to probably end up sending him somewhere,’’ Wedge said.

The manager said the club has talked internally about sending Gutierrez to a national medical center, with one possibility being the Mayo Clinic.

“I know they have talked about that, the Mayo Clinic,’’ said Wedge, who said the club had hopes when they talked to Gutierrez last week in Seattle that the stomach problems were finally under control.

“We had those conversations with him before we left … that he was ready to go,’’ Wedge said. “Having a setback like that, we’ve got to do something else.’’

Twitter: @JHickey3


YourThoughts

  • http://n/a Scott Gellatly

    Why don’t you & Art get serious about Seattle sports teams. They should be renamed (or reamed if u drop the n) as the Washington Generals of Football, Basketball & Baseball. It would not apply to hockey since the the Mets won the hockey championship in 1919. Sonics wouldn’t qualify either with one championship. But with no Sonics & no Mets, WTF THE STORM? PLEASE.

  • Alan Smythe

    When, oh when? Seems forever that we’ve waited for something besides a ‘building year.’ Quit building, start winning. Or continue trading the good ones to the Rangers, Red Sox, Yankees, etc. for prospects? Are we to continue being the farm team to the majors? A few good seasons in 30 plus years. Let’s see, we blame the manager, the ownership, the weather, the dome,….How about we find a way to win in one of the best ballparks in major league baseball?

  • marcelsees

    Gee, Price is so down-to-earth and unimposing, it’s still difficult for me to take him seriously.  Maybe all that’s to his advantage?  He’s definitely not your prototypical NFL quarterback at this stage of his career.  But, if he could run freely, without the injuries, perhaps Price could take this Husky offense to a really scary place.  He’s passed all the leadership challenges thus far. He’s clearly a tough and resilient individual.  His teammates believe in him.  Understood, he’s decidedly a work in progress, but for all his accomplishments, I’ve yet to see him will the Huskies forward under withering circumstances.  He’s yet to prove his command capabilities if we’re talking Heisman qualities.  It will be interesting to watch Prices’ response to a higher level of competition as the Huskies approach the most daunting part of their schedule.  I fear the Heisman sentiments are at least a year premature.  Let’s enjoy the ride.

  • cruddly

    Raise your hand if you think the Heisman is the most biased, overrated and inconsequential trophy awarded in college football.  The whole process reminds me of the academy awards where the  studios actively campaign behind the scenes and in the press for their own movies and artists to win Oscars.   With the Heisman, it’s the universities that get down and dirty, campaigning for their star athletes.  Remember how silly the UW looked last year, promoting a not ready for prime time Jake Locker?  
    Do we really want the Husky Athletic Department getting involved in that tacky mess again?  Please, just ignore the ‘hype man trophy’ and let Price do his thing unfettered.