The surprise resignation Friday of Texas manager Ron Washington, which came four days after Houston fired Bo Porter, leaves Lloyd McClendon as the only black manager in the big leagues.
“It’s tough,” McClendon said. “It was an alarming figure to start with. It’s even more alarming now.”
Washington released a statement that said he resigned in order to address “an off-the-field personal matter.” The Rangers promoted bench coach Tim Bogar to serve as interim manager.
Texas general manager Jon Daniels said Washington gave the club permission to announce the decision was “not drug related.” Washington admitted to cocaine use in 2010.
McClendon said he, like many others, was caught off-guard by Washington’s announcement. Washington was nearing the end of his eighth season and had guided the Rangers to the World Series in 2010 and 2011
“I’m shocked right now,” McClendon said. “I don’t know what else to say. I don’t have any information. I’m in the dark just like everybody else.”
McClendon said Washington’s clubs reflected his personality.
“He loved the game,” McClendon said, “and they played hard with a lot of passion. And they were (darn) good. That’s a hard thing to accomplish, to get guys to want to play hard for you. But he did it better than anybody.”
Felix Hernandez won’t get any extra rest in the near future.
Plans call for Hernandez to start Monday, when the Mariners return home to open a three-game series against Houston, and pitch again five days later on Sept. 13 against Oakland.
The Mariners have an open date, their final one of the season, on Thursday, but Hernandez will stay on a five-day cycle.
McClendon pointedly cited the six-day break that Hernandez had between late August starts as a key factor in his strong outing in Wednesday’s 2-1 victory at Oakland.
The rest of the tentative plan: Roenis Elias and Hisashi Iwakuma will pitch on Tuesday and Wednesday against the Astros. After the open date, James Paxton will start Friday against the A’s. Hernandez will go the following day.
McClendon hasn’t yet decided on a starter for Sept. 14 in the series finale against Oakland. That decision might hinge on how Chris Young performs Saturday against the Rangers.
IN THE CLUTCH
The Mariners were 7-for-12 with runners in scoring position in their 10-2 victory Thursday over the Rangers and, entering Friday, topped all clubs in batting average with runners in scoring position over the past month.
“I don’t think it’s an accident,” McClendon said. “I think it’s something we stressed from the first day of spring training. It’s preparation from a mental standpoint.
“Getting in the video room and understanding what pitchers are going to do in certain situations. If you do that, you’ve got a better chance to be successful, particularly with runners in scoring position.”
Thursday’s output boosted the Mariners to .340 since Aug. 6 (68-for-200).
Leading the way: Endy Chavez at .583 (7-for-12), Jesus Sucre .545 (6-for-11), Logan Morrison .429 (6-for-14), Austin Jackson .417 (10-for-24), Chris Taylor .400 (4-for-10) and Kyle Seager .385 (10-for-26).
The Mariners are batting .271 with runners in scoring position for the season, which ranks sixth among the 30 clubs. Detroit leads the majors at .279.
The absence of a true utility player on the Mariners’ roster surfaced again Thursday in the late innings of their 10-2 victory over the Rangers.
While Brad Miller replaced Robinson Cano at second base, the Mariners had nobody to substitute for third baseman Kyle Seager, who has played every inning of every game since May 11. (He was the designated hitter on June 20.)
If unable to find a veteran utility player, the Mariners have an in-house option in Ketel Marte, who batted a combined .304 in 128 games at Double-A Jackson and Triple-A Tacoma.
While Marte, 20, would need to be placed on the 40-man roster, that seems to be a minor issue because he will need to be protected this winter to avoid exposure to the Rule 5 draft..
The Mariners are rated roughly as a 50-50 chance to reach the postseason when averaging the latest odds of three major computer projections entering the weekend.
ESPN’s projections continue to view the Mariners far more favorably than the others at 64.7 percent, while fangraphs.com and Baseball Prospectus tab them at 47.3 percent and 43.3 percent respectively.
ESPN is also the only service that currently projects the Mariners to gain one of the five postseason slots. It’s odds: Baltimore and Los Angeles Angels 99.8, Oakland 97.7, Kansas City 76.8, Seattle 64.7 and Detroit 50.9.
fangraphs.com: L.A. Angels 99.9, Baltimore 99.2, Oakland 97.4, Detroit 78.0, Kansas City 66.0 and Seattle 47.3.
Baseball Prospectus: L.A. Angels 100.0, Baltimore 99.9, Oakland 97.8, Detroit 71.6, Kansas City 69.7 and Seattle 43.3.
The Mariners released veteran reliever Todd Coffey earlier this week in order to allow him an opportunity to hook on with a major-league club. Coffey, 33, was 4-1 with a 1.93 ERA in 36 games at Triple-A Tacoma after missing all of last season while recovering from a second Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. ... While the Mariners are one of two clubs that doesn’t yet have a grand slam — the Dodgers are the other — they have five three-RBI hits with the bases loaded. ... The Mariners, prior to Friday, were 20-11 since the trade deadline on July 31. Only three clubs were better: Kansas City (22-9), Baltimore (22-10) and Washington (21-11).
It was five years ago Saturday — Sept. 6, 2009 — that outfielder Ichiro Suzuki collected his 2,000th career hit with a leadoff double in the first inning of a 5-2 loss at Oakland.
Suzuki reached the milestone in his 1,402nd career game, which made him the second-fastest player in history to 2,000 hits. Hall of Fame outfielder Al Simmons did it in his 1,390th game in 1934 and finished with 2,927 for his career.
Suzuki has 2,826 hits for his career currently in its 14th major-league season. He was traded to the New York Yankees on July 23, 2012 for minor-league pitchers Danny Farquhar and D.J. Mitchell.
Farquhar is 1-1 with 2.54 ERA this season in 56 relief appearances. Mitchell was released by the Mariners in April 2013 and spent this season at Bridgeport in the independent Atlantic League.
The Mariners and Rangers continue their four-game series at 5:05 p.m. Saturday at Globe Life Park in Arlington.
Seattle right-hander Chris Young (12-7, 3.46 ERA) will get, perhaps, a final chance to retain his spot in the rotation after two poor starts when he opposes Texas right-hander Nick Martinez (3-10, 5.14).
Root Sports will broadcast the game.
The series concludes at 12:05 p.m. Sunday between Mariners left-hander Paxton (5-1, 1.91) and Rangers lefty Derek Holland (0-0, 1.29).