CLEVELAND -- It's not hard to figure out why the Mariners dropped the first three games of the series vs. the Indians over the weekend. Solving the issue is the challenge.
In the three losses, the Mariners were just 1-for-20 (.050) with runners in scoring position. Given the walk-off losses on Friday and Saturday, a clutch hit or two could have changed the complexion of the weekend dramatically.
In Monday's 10-8 loss, the Mariners were 3-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Mariners are 20-25 this after losing four straight to the Indians. In their 20 wins, they've hit .297 (49-for-165) with runners in scoring position. In the 25 losses, they've hit .130 (22-for-169).
"That's one thing we know we've got to continue to get better with," manager Eric Wedge said before Monday's series finale. "We're playing probably the hottest team in baseball right now. They're a pretty good club to begin with and they're hot right now, too. You catch them at a tough time. We need to snatch this one today and then get on a plane."
As for the difficulty of hitting with runners in scoring position, Wedge lit up when it was suggested some people think there should be no difference between that and any other at-bat.
"Those people haven't hit since Little League, if at all," Wedge said. "It's just different. Those same people argue that the ninth inning is the same as the seventh or eighth inning. It's just different. If I have to explain it to you, you don't understand. The ninth inning is different, because we're human beings, we're not widgets.
"No different than when you're doing regular human-being things and your heartbeat speeds up with different things you do in regular life. That's what happens with these guys when they're playing and millions of people are watching and there's 30,000 people in the stands. It's a situation where it's more important, you know the outcome is going to be more important, so you feel that. So it takes some time to be a clutch hitter. It takes time to be a closer. But that's what you love about the game, the human element."
After workout, Harang ready to make next start
CLEVELAND -- Veteran right-hander Aaron Harang did some running and tests on Monday, and the Mariners plan on starting him Tuesday in Anaheim after he missed his last outing in New York due to lower back stiffness.
Harang, 35, also threw a bullpen session on Sunday and said all went well.
"It felt good yesterday," he said Monday before heading out with trainer Rick Griffin for his follow-up. "Now I've just got to go run and test it again."
Manager Eric Wedge said things are progressing as needed.
"He's still lined up for Tuesday," Wedge said. "We anticipate everything being fine and he'll be good to go."
The biggest test was the bullpen session.
"It went pretty good," Wedge said. "You don't want to go too far with it, but he had a good work day and was even getting off the mound and fielding some bunts and things. So it was a pretty good test yesterday."
Harang is 1-4 with a 7.30 ERA in five games since being acquired by trade from the Rockies on April 12. He began slowly after not pitching for several weeks, but had back-to-back quality starts before his Thursday outing against the Yankees was scratched.
Maurer excited for SoCal homecoming
CLEVELAND -- Mariners right-hander Brandon Maurer will make his next start Wednesday in Anaheim, and it'll be a homecoming for the 22-year-old rookie.
Maurer grew up in Costa Mesa, Calif., about 12 miles from Angel Stadium, and says he attended about 10 or more Angels games a year as a youngster.
"I was a fan of Jared Weaver," he said. "I always liked watching him throw."
Wednesday's game against C.J. Wilson won't be Maurer's first outing in the stadium.
"I tried out for an Angels Elite team and we got to play in Angel Stadium," he said. "So that was pretty cool. I remember it just being so big, just standing there looking up at all those seats, it just seemed so big. But I guess that's normal now."
Maurer has pitched in eight Major League games this season and is learning how to deal with things after making the jump from Double-A ball. Bigger stadiums, bigger cities, bigger situations all need to become second nature.
"You have to just do the admiring before games, then go to work when it's time to play," he said.
Maurer said he hasn't been besieged with ticket requests yet. Mostly he's just eager to see his family after being gone since the start of camp in February.
"I'm sure all that will happen tomorrow when everyone realizes we're in town," he said with a laugh. "But my family is pretty excited. We got lunch plans for tomorrow and I'll get to hang out with them a little tonight, so that will be good. I haven't seen my parents since Oakland for my first game. So it'll be nice to see them and hang out a little."
• Franklin Gutierrez went 0-for-4 as the designated hitter for Triple-A Tacoma on Sunday in his fourth rehab game. Gutierrez is hitting .188 (3-for-16) as he returns from a strained hamstring.
• Top pitching prospect Taijuan Walker had a rough outing for Double-A Jackson in a 10-4 loss to Birmingham on Sunday, giving up eight hits and seven runs (five earned) with two walks and five strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. Walker is now 3-4 with a 2.77 ERA in nine starts.
• Right-hander Erasmo Ramirez continues working out in Peoria, Ariz., in extended spring camp as he recovers from a tender triceps muscle that cropped up in March.
"He's moving forward, but it's been slow going," Wedge said. "We're not to the point where he's an option just yet. It's been a slow process for him."
• Left-hander Danny Hultzen also remains sidelined as he continues rehab from shoulder soreness that came on while he was pitching for Tacoma.