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Geoff Baker covers the Mariners for The Seattle Times. He provides daily coverage of the team throughout spring training, and during the season.

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April 30, 2008 7:46 PM

Same old song

Posted by Geoff Baker

balentien0430 054.jpg

Nice hit by Wladimir Balentien to get the Mariners on the scoreboard, but that's all his team generated on offense tonight in an 8-3 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Look, it's simple, score four runs or less and you're going to lose the game. The average runs scored by any team in the AL these days is about 4.5 per contest. You do the math.

The M's are now 4-13 in those games in which they do not score more than four. They are also now 0-11 in games in which they trail by two or more runs at any point. That's a bad sign of offensive weakness. The inabiliy to rebound from any type of small setback. Two runs should not be this fatal. Jeff Clement reached base on a single in the ninth that diving center fielder Grady Sizemore couldn't come up with. So, the two newbies have those hits out of the way. Jose Vidro didn't do much against Cliff Lee. Nobody did except for Balentien. Vidro will be back in there tomorrow because he's got good career numbers against Indians starter Paul Byrd.

But Clement will be in there as well. He'll be the starting catcher the next two days as fading Kenji Johjima, hitting just .177, takes a seat. The manager wants him to relax.

"He's fighting himself so bad right now,'' manager John McLaren said.

Try selling Johjima on that. He's anything but relaxed and getting more worried by the second.

"He told me to relax but I'm not going to relax,'' Johjima said moments ago, through an interpreter. "Just because I'm taking two days off, it's not going to mean that for sure I'll do well on the third day.''

Johjima said he has to spend the next 48 hours figuring out what's happened to him. A few of his teammates will have to as well as the mixing and matching and flip-flopping of positions begins in earnest.

It's time to let Balentien and Clement take a shot.

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