DENVER – The dual Seattle story lines that started the game – Brandon Morrow’s first start, and Ken Griffey Jr.’s first left-field appearance of the year – were distant memories at night’s end.
The new and prevailing story line: Mark Lowe’s errant throws – to the plate and, more significantly, elsewhere – that led to Colorado’s go-ahead runs in a 5-3 Mariners loss at Coors Field on Saturday.
The Rockies extended their winning streak to 10 games, while the Mariners fell for the second straight time since reaching .500 Thursday in Baltimore.
Fresh off Jose Lopez’s two-run homer in the top of the eighth that tied the score at 3, the Mariners coughed it up in the bottom of the inning. And it wasn’t pretty.
The trouble started when Troy Tulowitzki hit a slow hopper to the third-base side of the mound. Lowe scampered over to field it, but his hurried, off-balance throw was wild and bounded past first baseman Russell Branyan.
“We work on that kind of stuff during spring training, so it is pretty much fundamental,” Lowe said. “But you don’t practice throwing off-balance off one foot while flying in the other direction.
“I knew it was a good runner out there and it was the only play I had. I mean, you look at the video and you might have had more time to set your feet and fire one over there. Either way, it would have been bang-bang.”
Tulowitzki landed at second, and everyone in Coors Field knew a sacrifice was coming. Carlos Gonzalez bunted sharply back to Lowe, who fired to third to try to nab Tulowitzki. But his throw was wide, forcing Adrian Beltre to stretch for it – leading to another throwing error as Tulowitzki slid in safely.
“The one there was unacceptable,” Lowe said. “I had plenty of time to set my feet and make a good throw to Beltre. We had him by three steps if the throw is on line. It’s not an easy play because you’re moving, but it’s a routine play.”
Chris Iannetta then delivered a sacrifice fly to right to bring in Tulowitzki with the go-ahead run. After two walks, Clint Barmes hit another sac fly for an insurance run.
“He’s still in the learning phase,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said of Lowe. “He keeps getting better and better, and through experience, he’ll be able to handle those situations better.”
The Mariners put runners on the corners with one out in the ninth, but Huston Street struck out Beltre and Endy Chavez to end it.
Morrow, meanwhile, was a mixed bag in his first start of the season. He flashed enough electric stuff to emphasis his upside in that role, but enough command issues to make it clear there’s much work ahead to get there.
In three innings, Morrow gave up three hits, walked four (including pitcher Jason Marquis with the bases loaded for the only run off him), struck out four and threw 64 pitches, of which 36 were strikes.
Wakamatsu said he would address Morrow’s future – which might include a stint at Class AAA Tacoma to get steady work as a starter – today.
“The walks got me in trouble, especially in the second, and I was probably lucky to get out of it with just the one run.” Morrow said.
Morrow was followed by Chris Jakubauskas, who worked three shutout innings.
Sean White gave up two runs in the seventh, ending his streak of 14 consecutive appearances (17 innings) without allowing a run.
Griffey, starting in left field for just the second time in his career, didn’t get any fly balls hit to him.
Earlier in the day, the Mariners put catcher Rob Johnson on the bereavement list and activated right-hander Roy Corcoran from the 15-day disabled list.
The Mariners said the 26-year-old Johnson had a family emergency.
The 29-year-old Corcoran returned from a rehabilitation assignment at Triple-A Tacoma. He’d been out since April 30 because of a strained neck.