McLaren laces into Mariners after loss
Team swept by Angels, falls to 18 games under .500 mark
SEATTLE -- Where there's a will, there's supposed to be a way, but you would have a hard time convincing Mariners manager John McLaren of that.McLaren sat behind the desk in his office at Safeco Field early Wednesday afternoon, answering questions from the media, which are equally dumbfounded as to why the team has struggled so mightily this season. The media session came almost an hour after McLaren and his coaching staff was berated by club president Chuck Armstrong, who two weeks ago gave the manager a vote of confidence.
"We all need to realize that we're definitely well below where we should be, and it's not acceptable," McLaren said. "I think we all need to take responsibility, every one of us needs to reevaluate where we are, where we need to go, and how we need to get there. And we need to do it now."There is no guarantee that even "doing it now" would get the Mariners where they expected to go this season -- into the postseason for the first time since 2001 -- but this team needs a hot streak the way most of us need water, food and sunshine. "There is a sense of urgency," McLaren said. "This is not the way it was supposed to be. We came out of Spring Training feeling good about ourselves, bragged about how good we were, and we're 17 games under .500." Better make it 18 games under .500. Right-hander Carlos Silva surrendered three runs in the first inning against the Angels in the series finale on Wednesday afternoon, leading to a 5-4 Seattle setback in front of 32,774. The three-game series sweep shoved the Mariners a season-high 15 1/2 games behind the Angels in the American League West. After the game, McLaren's frustrations boiled over. "I'll say a couple things, and that's it," he said.
McLaren then proceeded to make an expletive-laced statement, saying the team's been playing hard with "nothing to show for it," that he and the players and the fans are tired of the losing and angry about it, and that the Mariners have to "buckle up and get after it. I'm tired of losing like this every [game].""John's been real patient," general manager Bill Bavasi said after McLaren's outburst. "I think people would have thought he was justified if he chain-locked the doors to the clubhouse and set it on fire. It's time to be upset. It has been time to be upset for quite a while. And he has been upset, he's just been trying to protect the players and be a good leader and take the hits for them."
The Mariners won two of the first three games during the nine-game homestand, but then lost five of the last six, and headed to Boston for a two-city, six-game road trip with a 21-39 record.Prior to the team's latest loss, McLaren was asked if he wanted his players fearing for their jobs. "Yeah, I think we do," he said. "Yeah, I think we do. I think we might be a little complacent, definitely the way we've been going about things. It hasn't been working, and you know, the old theory 'addition by subtraction' has worked. "I'm not saying we're at that point, but I'm sure ownership is not happy putting $120 million [player payroll] on the board and we're  games under .500; there should be some people knowing that we can't go on like this." McLaren said he has had conversations with high-ranking club officials, including CEO Howard Lincoln and president Chuck Armstrong, and "they have been very supportive." "[But] they are not happy, and they shouldn't be happy. I'm sure our ownership and our fans are not happy. If there is anyone in this clubhouse that is happy, there's something wrong with them." McLaren wouldn't name any of the underachieving players, but it would have been easier to name the players that are producing as expected. Second baseman Jose Lopez has been Seattle's most consistent position player and Brandon Morrow has been superb as a late-inning reliever. The recent work of long reliever R.A. Dickey has been impressive, but in his last two outings, he has entered games when the Mariners were behind by seven and five runs. He has tossed 13 consecutive scoreless innings, covering three outings, all of them Seattle losses. Not his fault, but the Mariners are 0-6 in games Dickey has appeared in. Lopez hit his third solo home run of the series in the bottom of the first inning, singled to lead off the third inning, and singled home two runs in the fourth inning. He almost had a chance to do more offensive damage in the sixth inning, but the tying run was thrown out the plate while he was on deck. With two out and Yuniesky Betancourt on first base, Ichiro Suzuki lined a single into left-center field. Betancourt, running on the pitch, reached third and was waved home by third-base coach Sam Perlozzo. A well-executed relay nailed the runner at the plate to end the inning. "I played that in my head before the play even happened, which is what you are supposed to do," Perlozzo said. "There were two outs, and anything hit into the gaps I was going to take a shot at [scoring]. We had the runner running on the play and by going to his left, [left fielder Garret Anderson], it was a tougher throw for him. "In the ninth inning, I'm not going to take a chance like that, but it was the sixth and I thought it was a shot at scoring. They made a couple of good relay throws." Seattle had three baserunners the rest of the way and went down in order in the ninth on three groundouts. And the beat goes on. "Obviously we've had some breakdowns, and there's a lot been written about what we need to do and how we need to do it," McLaren said before the game. "I can say everybody in this clubhouse, starting with myself, needs to pick their game up, now. I'll leave it at that." Silva hung in there to give the Mariners eight innings, and wondered afterward if everyone around him the home clubhouse was serious about the team concept. "Don't forget, you play for a team," he said. "There are a lot of people here who play for themselves. If they get two hits, that's my day ... we lose, who cares?"
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.