Defensive lapses irk McLaren

Defensive lapses irk McLaren

NEW YORK -- Mariners manager John McLaren apologized for not being available to the media following his club's series-opening loss to the Yankees on Friday night.

It was the first time since becoming the Mariners' skipper midway through last season that McLaren did not conduct a postgame media session.

"I will be very blunt and honest," McLaren said prior to Saturday afternoon's game. "I just felt it was better for me not to speak. I wasn't very happy, and I probably would have said something I would have regretted. I kind of thought it was better not to talk to you guys, and I apologize."

The Mariners committed four errors in Friday's 5-1 loss, a frigid series opener, and they continued to struggle offensively, held to four hits by Yankees starter Chien-Ming Wang and three relievers. The loss dropped Seattle to a season-high four games below .500.

The temperature at game time was 49 degrees, typical of what the Mariners have experienced during the first month of the season. The temperature was actually one degree higher than the average first-pitch temperature on the road for the Mariners this season, discounting the three games played inside the domed Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg.

"Let's be honest," McLaren said. "The weather has not been our kind of weather, but with that said, we can't use that as an excuse. The other team is playing in it, too. That's the hand we've been dealt. We have to fight our way through it and do a better job.

"When you are winning, you don't think about things like [cold weather]. When you are losing, it seems like everything is bothering you."

The Mariners are 1-6 in road games played when the first-pitch temperature is below 61 degrees.

Three of the four errors made in Friday night's game led to unearned runs, spoiling yet another quality start. It has been an ongoing saga the entire season.

At Safeco Field
Temperature
Result
45
L
45
L
47
W
48
L
50
W
50
W
50
L
51
L
54
L
55
W
57
W
65
W
65
L
80
W
Away from Safeco Field
Temperature
Result
47
W
47
L
49
L
52
L
52
L
61
L
61
L
63
L
63
W
65
W
65
W
67
L
72
W
72
W
72
L
75
L
Record when first-pitch temp is 61 or below: 1-6
Record when first-pitch temp is 63 or above: 5-4

"We are a good fielding ballclub, but our defense has worked against us more than for us," McLaren said. "It has happened too many times. We are close to next to last in fielding. Our starting pitching has given us 16 or 17 quality starts.

"But when you are not hitting and you give the other team four outs an inning, it's just not a good combination. We have to do a better job all the way around."

After their first 30 games, the Mariners ranked ninth in batting average and 12th in defense. Seattle had 24 errors, and only Oakland (27) and Texas (31) had more.

"We need to hit better and catch the ball better," McLaren said. "You just hate to waste so many quality starts, and we're wasting them."

The Mariners are 10-6 in games in which they receive a quality start -- three runs or fewer in six innings -- this season.

"Our starting pitching was upgraded with the addition of Erik [Bedard] and Carlos [Silva]," McLaren said. "It has been great -- every bit as good as we thought it would be, if not better. But some of the other phases of the game are failing us.

"At some point, this has to stop. We are too good of a fielding ballclub to keep making this many errors. Throws, missed ground balls, dropped tags. It isn't one kind of error, but all kinds of errors. I am baffled because we have guys with great defensive capabilities, and they're not doing it.

"That's what makes me so frustrated. It leaves you scratching your head a little bit, and that's where I am right now. I don't know what else to say."

McLaren said it would do no good to rant and rave and kick over food spreads in the clubhouse.

"They are making physical errors, not mental errors, and it isn't because they aren't working hard enough," McLaren said. "Maybe they are working too hard. They take grounder after grounder after grounder before the games, but we're still having breakdowns."

McLaren doesn't understand it, and as Friday night demonstrated, he can't even try to explain it.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.