SEATTLE — It’s late August and the dozen rookies with the Seattle Mariners are entering a phase of the baseball season few of them have faced — another whole month to play.
Sunday at Safeco Field, it showed.
In a 9-3 loss to the Chicago White Sox, the Mariners’ rookie hitte
rs — second baseman Dustin Ackley, DH Casper Wells, third baseman Kyle Seager and left fielder Trayvon Robinson — combined to go 2-for-12 with eight strikeouts.
Manager Eric Wedge called it an experience they must remember and, more importantly, learn from in the 30 games that remain before the finale Sept. 28. Opposing teams now know how to pitch the Mariners’ young players, who’ve reached a time when they must adjust or continue to struggle.
“There’s no excuses and everybody has to be accountable,” Wedge said. “But you come over here and get 30, 40, 50 at-bats and everybody has a book on you. You have a little bit of success and there’s more of a book on you.”
Ackley went 1-for-4 and struck out three times, leaving him 2-for-12 in the three-game series.
Wells’ 0-for-4 game left him 0-for-7 with five strikeouts in the series. In seven games since he was hit on the nose by a Brandon Morrow fastball Aug. 17, Wells is 3-for-27 with nine strikeouts.
Seager went 1-for-4 and has a nine-game hitting streak but finished the series 3-for-11.
And Robinson, 0-for-4 with two strikeouts Sunday, went 1-for-8 against the White Sox.
White Sox starter Gavin Floyd, as John Danks did in a complete game Saturday night, limited the Mariners to defensive swings and little opportunity to score.
Franklin Gutierrez’s single in the first inning and Ichiro Suzuki’s hit in the third were the Mariners’ only two hits off Floyd through seven. By the time they scored, on Josh Bard’s two-run homer off the right-field foul pole in the eighth, the White Sox had nine runs.
Dayan Viciedo hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning and Tyler Flowers a grand slam in the sixth off Mariners starter Jason Vargas. It was a rough outing for Vargas, 7-12 with an earned run average that climbed 34 points to 4.52, although he didn’t quite portray it that way.
Despite allowing 10 hits, two walks and nine runs, Vargas said he threw the ball well but that the White Sox hit good pitches.
“I didn’t feel like I pitched bad today,” he said. “I was able to get ahead (in the ball-strike count) most of the day. They got some runners on base and hit some good pitches. They took advantage of a situation where I had a chance to get out of the inning and didn’t.”
That would have been the sixth inning with one out, the bases loaded and the White Sox ahead 3-0. Vargas threw what Wedge said was a pitch up in the strike zone, and Flowers crushed it for the grand slam.
“It was up, but I was trying to throw it at his hands,” Vargas said. “You can call up what you want, but that’s where I was trying to go.”
You also can call effective pitching something less than 10 hits and nine runs over 52⁄3 innings, but Wedge expects better.
“Command is everything to him and we still have to do a better job of controlling damage,” Wedge said of Vargas.
Even so, half the White Sox’ run production would have been enough to beat the Mariners. The offense, especially the four rookies in the lineup Sunday, received another schooling.
“It’s big-league baseball. They’re going to attack those holes,” Wedge said. “They’re going to attack you with some experience, with some video and with some scouting reports. And now it’s up to the kids to make the adjustment back.
“That’s one of the benefits of having young people up here early (in the season) opposed to September. That’s why it’s tough to evaluate in September because you don’t have time to go through that process. You’re seeing some consistencies with how these kids are being pitched. We’ve got 30 games left. We’ve got time to make that adjustment back and move it in the right direction.”
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com/marinersblog and follow his Twitter updates at @kirbyarnold.