ANAHEIM, Calif.— It isn’t hard to track the reason for a deepening offensive funk that brought the Mariners into Tuesday’s game against the Los Angeles Angels with just one run in their last 21 innings.
The Mariners were hitless in 18 opportunities over their last three games with runners in scoring position, including zippo-for-4 in Monday’s 8-1 loss to the Angels. Not surprisingly, they’ve lost their three games.
“We haven’t been good offensively for quite a while,” manager Lloyd McClendon noted. “It’s a little bit of a concern. I’m not sure what’s going on. But we need a big hit, somewhere, to get us jump-started.”
The Mariners, overall, entered Tuesday with a .264 average with runners in scoring position, which ranks fifth among the 15 American League clubs.
Contrast that to last season’s .228 average, which ranked 14th.
Even so, the current slump is proving costly.
Prior to Saturday’s games, the Mariners held a one-half-game lead over Kansas City for the AL’s final wild-card berth and were just one-half game behind Oakland for the top wild-card spot.
They entered Tuesday’s game trailing Oakland by three games and trailing Kansas City by two games — with 13 games remaining.
“You’ve got to find a way,” third baseman Kyle Seager said, “regardless of who we’re facing or how good they are. Or whatever the case is. You’ve got to find a way to score runs.”
McClendon dismissed any suggestion, prior to Tuesday’s game, that the Mariners are pressing after losing five of their previous six games.
“They’re just going through a funk,” he said. “That’s all. We just have to keep battling and fight our way through it. The Oakland A’s went through it, and we were happy about it. I’m sure they’re happy about our little funk, too.
“We’re not pressing…That’s a bunch of bull. We just got our (backside) kicked. That’s what happened.”
McClendon then sought to put the last week into perspective.
“Given what Seattle has gone through the last 10-12 years,” he asked, “if I had told you guys leaving spring training that on Sept. 16, we’d be two games out in the wild card, would you take it?
“I don’t think there’s anybody associated with the Seattle Mariners who would have said no. You’ve got to keep things in perspective and look at the big picture.
“Our guys have had a fantastic run. We don’t want to look back down that road, because it was a little shaky at times. We can see the finish line, and we’re going to keep charging ahead.”
Right-handed pitcher Felix Hernandez is the Mariners’ nominee for the Roberto Clemente Award, which recognizes one player each year for “positive contributions on and off the field.”
The Mariners have three previous recipients: second baseman Harold Reynolds in 1991, left-handed pitcher Jamie Moyer in 2003 and designated hitter Edgar Martinez in 2004.
“It’s an honor (to be nominated),” Hernandez said. “Very nice.”
Fans can participate in the selection process through Oct. 6 in an online vote at www.chevybaseball.com. The fan vote will get one vote as part of a selection panel.
The winner will be announced at the World Series.
Think the Mariners can pull out of their recent spin? The club announced single-game tickets to possible postseason games at Safeco Field will go on sale Sept. 25.
Season-ticket holders can begin purchasing single-game postseason tickets at 10 a.m. on Sept. 25. Fans who are registered with the club can begin purchasing tickets at noon on Sept. 25.
Registered fans are those who already receive email, newsletters and other official club communications. Those interested in becoming a registered fan can do so online at www.mariners.com.mail.
The deadline for new registrations to be eligible for the pre-sale is noon on Sept. 22.
Single-game postseason tickets will be available to the general public at noon on Sept. 26. The price of all postseason tickets will be refunded if the Mariners fail to qualify.
Angels right-hander Matt Shoemaker (16-4) was diagnosed as suffering a a mild strain in his left oblique as a result of reaching for a high hopper in the eighth inning of Monday’s 8-1 victory over the Mariners. He is likely to miss at least one start but, at this point, is expected to be ready for postseason…The Mariners entered Tuesday’s game looking to avoid road losses on successive days for the first time since June 18-19 at San Diego. They have lost back-to-back road games on two occasions in that span, but they were parts of two different road trips…When Hisashi Iwakuma allowed seven runs (in 3 1/3 innings) in Monday’s loss, it marked just the third time this season that a Mariners starter allowed seven or more. At this point, that’s tied for the franchise record. Starters on the 1977 and 1978 clubs also permitted seven or more runs on just three occasions.
It was 17 years ago Wednesday — Sept. 17, 1997 — that Ken Griffey Jr. matched personal and franchise records by collecting his 140th RBI with a double in the first inning of a 5-4 loss at Texas.
Griffey finished the season with 147 RBIs, which remains the Mariners’ record. He led the American League that year in RBIs and with 56 homers and 125 runs. He was also selected as the AL’s Most Valuable Player.
The Mariners and Angels continue their four-game series at 7:05 p.m. Wednesday at Angel Stadium. Lefty James Paxton (6-2 with a 1.83 ERA) will oppose Los Angeles lefty C.J. Wilson (12-9, 4.61).
Root Sports will televise the game.
After the series concludes Thursday, the Mariners head to Houston for three weekend games. The road trip concludes with four games next week at Toronto.