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McClendon confident offense will heat up

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MINNEAPOLIS -- As the Mariners hit the quarter point of their season, their 20-20 record belies an offense that ranks near the bottom of the American League in most offensive categories.

Going into Friday's series opener against the Twins, Seattle sits 12th among the 15 AL teams in runs per game, 14th in batting average (.232) and last in slugging percentage (.370) and on-base percentage (.294).

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Their pitching has kept them competitive, ranking fourth in ERA (3.56) and opponent's batting average (.240).

After coming off back-to-back games against Rays starters David Price and Jake Odorizzi when they totaled just one run and eight hits, manager Lloyd McClendon insisted he wasn't concerned about the lack of offense.

"No. We've had our ups and downs and we've seen the bounceback out of it," McClendon said prior to Friday's game. "Unfortunately we've had a couple guys that were struggling that pitched their best games against us, Price and the other young man. We just have to move on and get ready for this series."

After working as the high-powered Tigers hitting instructor the prior seven seasons, McClendon said that club had its rough games as well.

"Everybody talks about the offense in Detroit," he said. "But it wasn't a push-button offense. They had ups and downs and struggles, too. Last year in Detroit we got shutout maybe five or six times. It happens. It happens to everybody. It's always personal when it happens to you.

"But we're going to be fine. This team will be fine. We'll hit. We're challenged a little offensively, but I believe when it heats up, bats heat up as well. I think we have some bats that will heat up. They're grinding it out and trying to get it done."

Nobody is comparing the Mariners offense to the Tigers, but McClendon said his club is better than it looked the last two games at Safeco Field.

"When you get two hits and get shutout, nothing looks good. That's just the way it is," he said. "We looked pretty darn good the other night when we scored [12] runs. You try not to over-analyze and blow things out of proportion. You continue to look at the big picture.

"Do we have shortcomings offensively? Of course we do. Do we have challenges? Yes we do. Can we win? Yes we can."

Greg Johns is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB as well as his Mariners Musings blog. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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