OAKLAND, Calif. — With the Mariners getting broomed out of Oakland, falling to a season-low minus-eight in the win-loss columns, they are expected to return home to a drumbeat of dissatisfaction from fans.
In the wake of Thursday's 6-3 loss to the Athletics to end a three-game sweep, and a 57-minute closed-door team meeting that followed it, the vast part of that unhappiness falls on general manager Bill Bavasi and manager Mike Hargrove.
While no specifics are available, there are intimations around the organization that Bavasi's situation could be less solid than at any time in the past as the club goes through a third losing season under him.
There seem to be no such vibes about Hargrove, and fan demands for his dismissal as well seemingly draw no reaction from the manager's bosses, to this point.
Beyond the fact that no change is imminent, according to sources, nothing is certain.
Mariners officials, Hargrove's bosses, have a policy of not commenting on personnel matters. In the past, Bavasi has avoided the issue and any kiss-'em-bye-bye vote of confidence by deflecting questions about a managerial change, saying, "I will not entertain that question."
Yet, until now, the situation around the Seattle club seems to be far different from the Chicago Cubs, where Dusty Baker is under fire daily, and the Kansas City Royals, where GM Allard Baird has been reported as nearly gone for a month.
Winning pitcher: Kirk Saarloos (2-1)
Losing pitcher: Joel Pineiro (4-4)
Tonight: San Diego Padres
7:05 p.m., Ch. 11/KOMO (1000 AM)
Starting pitchers: M's LH Jarrod Washburn (2-5, 3.91) vs. RH Chris Young (3-2, 3.47)
There has been at least one hint of late that Mariners officials have discussed changes in broad terms this year already. But one official said only, "There has been no sense that there will be any change of any sort. Nothing is close."
If the Mariners get to the point of changes, the decision might be made for business reasons, not for baseball.
While those two sides of any franchise are intertwined, and the 17-25 record is a primary issue for the Mariners and their fans, the number that might play a bigger part of team officials' thinking is attendance.
Through 22 games in 2005, the Mariners had drawn 752,677. Through 22 games this year, they have attracted 570,112.
That projects to a total for the season of about 2.1 million. That would be some 400,000 to 500,000 below revenue projections, and the way CEO Howard Lincoln runs a tight business ship, someone would have to be held responsible.
Thus, because attendance would seem to be more under the GM's watch, Bavasi could indeed be more in the line of fire.
As far as the baseball goes, a special-assignment scout for a National League club noted, "The Mariners were playing good ball until they got to Oakland. Grover [Hargrove] has them paying attention and they had been responding. He's got control of the club, and that's always a key to a manager's situation."
So intent had Hargrove been on holding the team accountable that he called the postgame meeting Thursday because he "felt a letdown after they [the A's] scored their last two runs ... no, not a letdown, as such, the effort was still there.
"But the bench got real quiet, and that's the first time that's happened and that's once too many."
Mariners pitcher Jamie Moyer said the meeting "was one of the best I've ever been in on. A lot of guys had a lot of good things to say."
Starter Joel Pineiro, who took the loss, said the meeting "was good for us, good for the team. It made everyone feel better. Hopefully, we'll see things happening differently."
Pineiro shouldered part of the blame for Thursday's letdown.
"I beat myself out there," he said. "I didn't keep finding a way to get out of an inning. I just kept hanging my head, saying to myself, 'What's going to happen next?' I didn't do all I could to give my team a chance to win and for that I blame myself entirely."
But the NL scout pointed out that if Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson "were producing for the offense the way you'd expect, the Mariners would be on top of the [American League] West, not at the bottom."
Beltre was hardly at fault yesterday because his sore hamstring kept him out of the game.
The scout also questioned, as some have all season, if catcher Kenji Johjima was making as smooth an adjustment to the U.S. style of pitching as the Mariners wish.
"Earlier in the year, you wondered if [Johjima] was calling enough fastballs. The Mariners seem to be throwing more, but maybe location could be better. The games I saw they haven't worked in [inside] much. You have to work in."
Once again, Seattle's starting pitching was a letdown as Pineiro got Seattle's first lead of the series, 1-0, in the top of the first, then suffered Seattle's first lost lead in the bottom of the inning.
Oakland jumped out 3-1 on three hits and two walks. The Mariners' offense, which went 2 for 13 with runners in scoring position the last six innings Wednesday, was 0 for 8 before Jose Lopez's run-scoring single in the seventh.
Bob Finnigan: 206-464-8276 or email@example.com
|Remember when the Mariners' starting pitching was their strength? Well, it hasn't been the past six games, during which the Mariners have gone 2-4 and the starters have an earned-run average of 8.70. In the five previous games, the starters had allowed just eight runs in 37-2/3 innings for a 1.91 ERA.|
For the record
W/L streak: L-3
At home: 9-13
On the road: 8-12
vs. AL West: 6-10
vs. Angels: 4-2
vs. Oakland: 1-6
vs. Texas: 1-2
vs. AL East: 5-5
vs. AL Cent.: 6-10
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 4-8
vs. RHP: 13-17
1-run games: 3-8
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1:05 p.m., Ch. 11
RH Chan Ho
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4:35 p.m., no TV