Mariners’ defense — and Milton Bradley — join the offensive collapse

When a team goes through what the Mariners have experienced the past 10 games, certain guys become targets.

There’s Ken Griffey Jr. and his hitting struggles. There’s Mike Sweeney and his .179 batting average, and the fact that he and Griffey have contributed no home runs and only seven RBI so far. There’s Chone Figgins, still having not warmed up in the second spot in the batting order.

Tonight, in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, there were enough targets to start a carnival. Step right up:

  • Figgins booted a grounder for an error on the first play of the game and shortstop Jack Wilson clanked the very next ball the Rays put in play for an error.
  • Wilson committed three errors and was involved in a Bermuda Triangle popup that fell in shallow center field after he spent the first few moments pointing to the ball in the sky before he began running hard after it.
  • Griffey went 0-for-4, struck out twice as Rays starter James Shields tormented him with his changeup, and is now batting .210.
  • Ichiro Suzuki got picked off first base after a leadoff single in the first inning.
  • Catcher Adam Moore committed a passed ball that led to the Rays’ final run.
  • And then there was the mysterious saga of Milton Bradley, his two strikeouts and an apparent tantrum behind the dugout that got him pulled from the game by manager Don Wakamatsu.

    Bradley had already popped up in the second inning and struck out looking at a wicked down-and-in pitch from Shields for the third out of the fourth with a runner on first base.

    In the sixth, with the Mariners already having scored, Bradley came to bat with the bases loaded and one out. Shields got ahead of him again and struck him out looking again.

    Bradley walked back to the dugout and, as he descended the steps, flung his bat and helmet hard down another set of steps that lead to the doorway to the clubhouse.

    From there, we don’t know exactly what happened, although we’re told it wasn’t a kumbaya scene. Wakamatsu didn’t appear at his usual perch on the dugout steps until the second batter in the top of the seventh inning. By then, Ryan Langerhans had replaced Bradley in left field.

    What happened?

    “With what went on with the two strikeouts, we got him out of the ballgame,” Wakamatsu said.

    Asked to elaborate, the manager followed only with, “We felt at that time it was time to get him out.”

    Remember those happy days of 2009 when the Mariners were burying the dismal memory of the 2008 team with camaraderie and fundamentally sound baseball?

    Well, this isn’t it.

    “We’re at a point right now where watching that game, I don’t know if anybody in this clubhouse was proud of it,” Wakamatsu said. “There’s no excuse for the lack of defense from this ballclub. That’s something we’ll address and fix.”

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    Reliever Mark Lowe had an MRI on his sore lower back and the Mariners hope to learn today the reason it has bothered him recently.

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