Notes: Sexson battling through slump
Betancourt on hot streak; Ichiro part of elite basestealing group
SEATTLE -- Richie Sexson's slump is no secret in Seattle.Just ask the thousands of Mariners fans who booed their first baseman Friday after an 0-for-4 performance, which included three strikeouts. Things got so bad that he was the recipient of sarcastic cheers after fouling off a ball. Fans expect more than a .196 average from Sexson, who is making $14 million this season. He leads the team with 17 home runs, but has managed little else all season, and the Seattle faithful have become restless. "People let you know they're not happy," manager John McLaren said. "When they cheer when you hit a foul ball, it's a humbling experience." Sexson has struggled throughout the season. His longest hitting streak this season is just four games, and he was just 2-for-25 with two RBIs in the Mariners' most recent homestand. The pressure continues to mount for Seattle's struggling first baseman, especially as the Mariners find themselves in the midst of a pennant race. The pressure to perform is often overwhelming, but to snap out of a slump while trying to contend is no easy task, no matter what the coaching staff does. "We do everything we can as coaches, as managers, to try to put these guys' mind at rest whenever we can; to give them support, to give them extra work, whatever it takes," McLaren said. "With that said, they've got to do it themselves, too. We've got some guys struggling, let's be honest about it. I'm not going to single anyone out, but I know these guys are doing things behind the scenes that none of you see, that I see." McLaren said Seattle's upcoming road games at Baltimore and Chicago may be a welcome change of scenery for his struggling hitters. Sexson started in just one of the Mariners' games against the Red Sox over the weekend. The Mariners have made numerous attempts to try and change things, such as a shift in the batting order, or a day off. Yet, Sexson commented recently that, "Anyone can have an off year," which did not sit right with his manager. "However it was interpreted, that's not how he was thinking," McLaren said. "With that said, I told him, 'As long as I know that you have the fight in you, we're going to stick with you.'" When Sexson finally busts out of his slump, he can count on two things: A regular spot in the lineup, and the boo-birds' sudden extinction from Safeco Field. "Richie, when he gets going again, he'll be back in there full-time," McLaren said. "There are not many guys, but Richie's one of those guys, that can actually carry us. That's what we're looking to get." Trivia time: Jose Lopez has been solid at second base this season and is on pace to break the club record with a .992 fielding percentage. What is the current Mariners record, who set it and in what year? No more streaking: Saturday's loss snapped the Mariners' nine-game winning streak against Boston at Safeco Field, which was the longest such streak for Seattle in club history. The previous record was five games, set in 1989. Yu Bet: Shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt has been on fire lately, and hit his seventh home run Saturday night in the Mariners' loss to the Red Sox. That home run, coupled with a shot Friday night, marked the second time in his career he has hit a round-tripper in back-to-back games. In his last 22 games, Betancourt is sporting a .380 average with 10 runs, five doubles, three home runs and 12 RBIs. Thou shalt steal: Ichiro Suzuki is just one of three players in Major League history to steal at least 30 bases in each of his first seven seasons, accompanied by Rickey Henderson and Vince Coleman. Ichiro has a 90 percent success rate over his last three seasons, the highest over a three-year span since 1951. And the answer is: Bret Boone holds the current Mariners record for best fielding percentage in a single season with a .990 mark in 2003. On deck: After an off-day Monday, the Mariners hit the road for Baltimore to begin a three-game set with the Orioles on Tuesday. Righty Jeff Weaver (2-10, 6.32 ERA) opposes right-hander Steve Trachsel (5-7, 4.97) at 4:05 p.m. PT.
Patrick Brown is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.