One flicker of light from the Mariners’ 1-5 trip came from second baseman Dustin Ackley, who went 9-for-22 (.409) with two doubles.
When the Mariners opened their homestand Thursday at Safeco Field, Ackley was batting fifth – his highest spot in the order this season.
He was asked if he took that as affirmation that manager Eric Wedge has noticed the recent uptick, which included a five-game hitting streak heading into the Thursday game against Los Angeles.
“I think so,” Ackley said. “Any time that guys are hitting well, I think you want to get them as many at-bats as you can. I don’t know if that’s what he’s thinking or if he’s just trying to jump the lineup to maybe spark something. You really don’t know what that is, but I’m just going to take it as ‘OK, I’m moving up in the lineup.’ I feel confident.”
Wedge said the decision was partly due to Ackley’s recent success but also because of injuries and other roster issues, which led him to give veterans such as Michael Morse and Raul Ibañez the day off.
“I’m trying to get some of these veteran guys on track,” Wedge said. “And Morse is a physical issue (broken finger). We need to get him a day. And then you look at Ibañez not being in the lineup – going to try to get him probably a couple of days, give him a chance to work and get going a little bit. It’s just who we have right now.
“We’re dinged up. … But we’ve got a lot of major league players up here; they’ve very capable of winning ballgames, and that’s the mentality that we’re going to have: go out here and expect good things to happen.”
Ackley believes good things started happening for him even before the recent trip. Over the eight games leading to the start of this homestand he hit .400. Over the three-game series in Houston that ended the trip, he went 7-for-12 (.583). Going into Thursday night, his season average was .230.
“I feel right now as good as I have the whole season – even better so than spring training,” he said. “I’m just going to continue doing those things that I’ve been doing in the cage and BP and in the game, and hopefully they’ll keep working out.”
Saturday is Dustin Ackley Bat Night at Safeco Field.
Wedge said outfielder Michael Saunders (shoulder) could be sent to Triple-A Tacoma as early as today to begin work as designated hitter.
Meanwhile, a magnetic resonance imaging test (MRI) has revealed that outfielder Franklin Gutierrez has a Grade 1 hamstring strain – the least severe of three levels – and could be out “probably two or three weeks.”
SWITCH AT SHORT
Wedge announced Wednesday that he was making a switch at shortstop, moving Robert Andino more regularly into the starting lineup and landing previous starter Brendan Ryan more regularly on the bench.
That was the case again Thursday – Andino’s 29th birthday.
Andino said it feels good to have that vote of confidence from his manager, but he was otherwise understated in his reaction to the promotion.
“I just go out there, and whatever I’ve got to do, I’m happy just to help the team,” he said.” I ain’t here to take nobody’s position. I’m just here to help the team.”
Andino began this homestand hitting .176, while Ryan was hitting .143.
Ryan took responsibility for his weak offensive numbers, saying he sometimes puts too much pressure on himself and knows he can do better.
The second game of this four-game series begins at 7:10 p.m. Probable starting pitchers are Mariners’ right-hander Aaron Harang (0-2, 10.24) and Angels’ left-hander C.J. Wilson (1-0, 4.00). The game will be shown on Root Sports and broadcast on 710-AM.