June 16, 2010 in Sports

Another ‘timely’ loss for M’s

Seattle, failing to get clutch hit, falls to 2-7 on nightmare road trip
Larry Stone The Seattle Times
 
Associated Press photo

St. Louis’ Colby Rasmus, right, is congratulated by David Freese after hitting a two-run homer.
(Full-size photo)

ST. LOUIS – One more indicator of the Seattle Mariners’ malaise revealed itself on Tuesday in the latest installment of The Road Trip of Doom.

The Mariners had two golden opportunities to assert themselves in a game they eventually lost 4-2 to the St. Louis Cardinals. They have dropped seven of nine on the trip, which mercifully ends today, and are 6-13 in a brutal stretch of 20 games in 20 days that also has one more game left.

In the first inning, facing Cardinals starter Jeff Suppan – who had been released last week by the Brewers for his ineffectiveness – they loaded the bases with two outs. But Suppan, in his first appearance for St. Louis since Game 4 of the 2006 World Series, got off the ropes by getting Josh Wilson to ground sharply into a force out.

Then, in the fifth, facing reliever Blake Hawksworth they again loaded the bases with two outs. And again Wilson hit the ball hard to the shortstop. But Brendan Ryan made a nice backhanded stop and nipped the runner at second for a force that again stymied a potential Mariners rally.

The Mariners have become lambs rather than lions with the bases loaded. Since Jose Lopez’s grand slam against the White Sox on April 23, they are 3 for 29 with three men aboard. Before that, they were 9 for 19.

“Offensively, it’s kind of a story we’ve had for a while – not having timely hits with the bases loaded,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.

Wilson said he’d “give a lot” to have hit the ball a few feet in either direction.

“I’d also give a little to take a better swing,” he said. “All night I was hitting the outside of the ball.”

Their bases-loaded failures are just one problem in a long and ever-growing list for the Mariners, who dropped 17 games under .500 and 12 1/2 games out of first place, both season highs. They have gone 14 straight games without scoring at least five runs (and not surprisingly, won just four of those). And, incredibly, they have just nine road wins in 33 games.

Wakamatsu had a quick hook for starter Ryan Rowland-Smith, who fell to 0-6 for the season. Rowland-Smith, Ian Snell (who was designated for assignment Tuesday) and closer David Aardsma are a combined 0-15 this season.

Rowland-Smith lasted four innings, but after niftily pitching out of trouble in the first three innings, he was touched for three in the fourth.

That came after the M’s had taken a 1-0 lead on Milton Bradley’s third homer in his past five games – the only run they would get in four innings off Suppan.

“I thought we saw two sides of Rowland-Smith,” Wakamatsu said. “The first three innings were pretty good. We talked about making some mechanical changes.”

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