Rangers deal Mariners seventh straight loss, 4-0
The Mariners took a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, mustering only two hits before the ninth inning and seeing their scoreless-innings streak extended to 26.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Texas Rangers @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
Jack Cust hasn't seen a whole lot of live pitching the past month as a Mariners designated hitter-turned-designated sitter.
But with the club in a freefall and desperate to try anything, Cust was thrown into the experimental beaker on Friday night and once again the lineup concoction blew up on the home team. The Mariners took a 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers, mustering only two hits before the ninth inning and seeing their scoreless-innings streak extended to 26.
Afterward, Cust, having gone 0 for 4 with two strikeouts, stood and answered questions about a losing streak now at seven games and an offense he's had a limited role in as it flounders toward historical depths.
"Everybody's pressing," Cust said. "Everybody wants to get the big hit. Everybody wants to get the 10-run homer. It's not going to happen."
The crowd of 30,551 at Safeco Field would have settled for any kind of home run, or even a runner making it to third base. That didn't happen, with the Mariners held to two hits by Colby Lewis before notching a pair of singles in the ninth to chase the Texas starter from the game with one out to go.
The Mariners' Doug Fister gave up only two runs the first seven innings, but Adrian Beltre hit a sacrifice fly in the eighth and Michael Young added a run-scoring single to double the visitors' lead. Fister (3-11) hasn't won since May 30 despite going at least seven innings in seven of his last eight starts while allowing no more than four runs in any.
The Mariners have scored two runs or fewer in 15 of 18 starts by Fister. Still, as he always does, the right-hander went to almost comical extremes to try to find something to blame himself for.
"Obviously, when you've got one out and the bases loaded and give up a fly ball, that's what they're looking to do and that's what you've got to try to alleviate," he said of the Beltre sac fly in the eighth.
But no amount of Fister blame-taking could absolve an offense that has caused Seattle to drop seven games in the division standings in seven days of scheduled baseball to the first-place Rangers to fall 9 ½ out. The season is now all about building for 2012, but also about salvaging some pride for a team that now seems on track for 90 losses or more.
Fueling the freefall is an offense that has scored three runs or fewer in seven straight games and 10 of the last 11.
Seattle is on pace to score 524 runs this season, compared to the 513 mustered last year — the worst output by any team in the four-decades-old designated hitter era. But the fact is, the Mariners have averaged nearly a run worse the past six weeks than their 3.23-per-game season average. That means they stand to shatter their old record — and perhaps lose far more than 90 games — if the trend continues.
The Mariners, while in contention as recently as last week, embarked on a strategy of playing young players at the expense of veterans, even when the newcomers struggled over extended periods. Now, rusty-looking veterans like Cust and Chone Figgins — Jack Wilson has two at-bats the last three weeks and has become a non-factor — have been thrust in the lineup twice in recent days to non-results.
"It's difficult, but it's part of being a professional and going out there and doing your job," Cust said, adding that he tends to be over-aggressive after sitting and has to fight to contain that. "You're not always going to get a perfect scenario."
Cust clearly won't be around next season, and might not be much beyond the July 31 trade deadline.
But Mariners manager Eric Wedge needed him in there on a night the slumping Justin Smoak got a night off and Adam Kennedy again took his spot at first base.
Wedge sounded more urgent than normal in a pregame chat with reporters, almost imploring his hitters to "be more brutally honest with themselves" and change the way they've gone about things.
"This is big-league baseball," he said. "The best of the best. The strong survive."
But after the latest loss, he called it "frustrating" and "upsetting" and said his hitters can't keep missing hittable pitches. Wedge suggested his hitters need more of an edge and that he doesn't care if they have to get angry at him.
Pressed further on what he meant, Wedge added that he wasn't "here to make friends" and seemed to suggest the lineup shuffling and sitting of players will continue until somebody puts bat to ball.
"We're way too deep into the season to continue to have games like this," he said. "It starts with me. But ultimately, they've got to go out there and get it done."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com
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