Rangers chase Hernandez; M’s can’t buy big hit
SEATTLE – Having proven so far that pitching and defense alone aren’t enough to produce a winning record, the Seattle Mariners yearned for something more Saturday in a 6-3 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Like a long ball. A warning-track gapper. Even a ground-ball out at the right time.
The Mariners put runners on the bases in all but one inning, producing runs only on RBI singles by Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley in the third inning and a run-scoring ground out by Lopez in the fifth.
The opportunities were there. The big hit wasn’t. And the Mariners lost for the sixth time in eight games to fall to 11-13.
All of the M’s eight hits were singles – three of them infield hits – and they went 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position. It was the first time in 55 games that Seattle didn’t have an extra-base hit.
”It’s an offensive issue right now and it’s something we’ll have to address,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
The M’s had baserunners in every inning except the seventh.
The Mariners have hit only three home runs this season at Safeco Field, two by Casey Kotchman and one by Bradley, and nobody has homered since last Sunday when Lopez hit one at Chicago. Their nine homers are the fewest in baseball. Three players have hit at least that many – Paul Konerko of the White Sox with 11 and Kelly Johnson and Mark Reynolds of Arizona with nine each.
The deepest ball by a Mariner was Milton Bradley’s opposite-field liner that Rangers left fielder Josh Hamilton caught in front of the warning track for the final out of the game – with runners at first and second after Ichiro Suzuki and Chone Figgins led off with walks.
The Mariners drew six walks but only Figgins, in the third inning, scored.
“We had opportunities in the second inning with the bases loaded and again in the eighth and the ninth,” Wakamatsu said. “But it goes back to runners in scoring position. Guys are pressing right now. We’ll go out and continue to work and battle these problems.”
One day earlier, the Mariners’ output Saturday would have easily been enough to win. That’s when the Mariners went 12 innings without a run, spoiling Cliff Lee’s seven shutout innings in his first start as a Mariner.
Saturday, Felix Hernandez was thwarted just the same by his offense, but also by a sore back that troubled him throughout his 41/3 innings.
Trainers worked on Hernandez’s back after the third inning, and he never felt comfortable.
“I’m the kind of guy who won’t come out,” Hernandez said. “I’m going to go out there and just battle. It wasn’t my day.”