Seattle manager Eric Wedge came to the Mariners saying he believed the offense had more potential than it showed in a dismal 2010 campaign.
Eight games into the 2011 season, you have to wonder if Wedge isnt reassessing that philosophy. The Mariners are 2-6 same as last year at this time and that team went on to set records for offensive futility en route to 101 losses.
It may be a new season, but the Mariners are at it again. Seattle went 1-for-11 with men in scoring position Saturday — getting runners into scoring position with less than two outs for four consecutive innings from the fifth through the eighth — and took a 2-1 loss to Cleveland, the Mariners sixth loss in succession.
“We must fix our mistakes, right fielder Ichiro Suzuki said, after having had one of the games big at-bats.
At bat with one run home in the eighth inning and men on first and third, he tried to drag a bunt for a single that would have tied the game. He couldnt steer the ball away from reliever Rafael Perez, and the pitcher easily picked up the ball and threw out Ichiro.
An inning later, Chone Figgins second straight hit (ending an 0-for-26 streak) was a double. With Seattle still down one but having a terrific opportunity to tie, Milton Bradley flew out, Jack Cust struck out and Justin Smoak grounded out.
“We had our opportunities again, Wedge said. “Weve just been a hit short too much of the time. Well get better.
One would hope. On the other hand, the 2010 Seattle offense didnt get better, scoring 513 runs, which was the worst offensive output in baseball in a couple of decades.
In case youre counting, the Mariners current pace, 25 runs in eight games, will get them to 506 runs by seasons end.
Progress? Not hardly.
There were some positive signs Saturday. Figgins singled and doubled, collecting his first hits since the second game. Michael Saunders took over the club lead in RBIs (four) with a two-out single in the seventh that cut the deficit to 2-1. And Smoak and Adam Kennedy doubled.
None of it was enough to help starter Doug Fister, who kept the Indians shut down, but still fell to 0-2. He gave up six hits and two runs (one earned) in six innings.
“Doug Fister pitched one whale of a ball game, Wedge said. “He was good the last time out, and I thought he was better today.
The Indians, who hit at will Friday, had trouble doing much of anything against Fister. Their runs came in the fourth inning when a pair of singles and a walk loaded the bases. Orlando Cabrera got a run home with a sacrifice fly to left, but when there wasnt a Seattle defender anywhere near third base and Bradleys throw in wasnt anywhere near the base either, all hell broke loose.
Wedge said shortstop Brendan Ryan was supposed to be covering the base, but Ryan was serving as the cutoff man. He said he thought the job was Fisters. Although the Bradley throw was wide, if either player had been in position at third, the ball would have been caught.
No one was, however. Backing up third, Fister raced to get the ball, but kicked it into the dugout, allowing in the second run — unearned.
“Weve got to keep looking forward, looking in the same direction, Ichiro said in a quiet Seattle clubhouse. “We dont want to look back now.