SEATTLE – The question came up Sunday morning before the Seattle Mariners tried to squeeze a victory out of their series against the Texas Rangers.
If Doug Fister pitches a perfect game, do the Mariners still win?
Like trees in the woods, there was no easy answer.
Fister didn’t pitch a perfect game, but he did the next best thing by taking it one out into the sixth inning before Max Ramirez got a hit. Fister then suffered the wrath of the Mariners’ paltry offense in what became a 3-1, 11-inning loss to the Rangers.
David Murphy’s RBI single off closer David Aardsma tied the score 1-1 in the ninth inning and the Rangers scored twice in the 11th on Murphy’s sacrifice fly and two passed balls by catcher Rob Johnson that allowed another run to score.
The Mariners lost all three games to the Rangers when their lack of runs undermined some of the best pitching they’ve had this season.
“If anyone had said we would throw 26 scoreless innings in a three-game series and get swept, I’d think you are crazy,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
Cliff Lee pitched seven shutout innings in a 2-0, 12-inning loss on Friday and Fister finished with eight shutout innings, allowing three hits, on Sunday. The Mariners supported them both with one run in those 15 innings.
Like the other games, the Mariners had baserunners and opportunities – five hits, five walks and a hit batter – but scored only when Franklin Gutierrez singled in the fourth inning to push home Chone Figgins from second base.
After going 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position Saturday, the Mariners went 1 for 6 Sunday.
Wakamatsu said there’s no quick fix to the hitting problems, but he and general manager Jack Zduriencik met behind a closed door for the second straight day after a loss.
“The offense right now, there’s not a quick fix,” Wakamatsu said.
For the second time in three games, one key hit would have made a difference between a Mariners victory and what became a gut-wrenching defeat.
Besides a missed bases-loaded opportunity in the fourth, the Mariners had runners on first and second with nobody out in the eighth after Figgins and Gutierrez drew back-to-back walks.
Lopez scorched a line drive that Rangers first baseman Ryan Garko snagged with a leaping catch before doubling Figgins off second base. Milton Bradley struck out to end the inning.
After that, Rangers relievers Chris Ray, Darren Oliver, Dustin Nippert and Neftali Felix retired 10 of the next 11 Mariners, interrupted only by Figgins’ walk with two outs in the 10th. That inning ended when Gutierrez blistered a line drive to the right-field warning track, where Murphy caught it.
Fister carved through the Rangers with barely a sniff of a hit in the first five innings. Ramirez got the Rangers’ first hit of the game – his first hit of the season – with a single to left field in the sixth.
“To look at the pitching in this series, it’s crazy,” Wakamatsu said. “These guys pitched their tails off. I couldn’t be prouder of them.”
“You look at them to try to get better,” Wakamatsu said. “To score four runs in a series, you are not going to win games and we have to look at some things.”
The Mariners have released veteran outfielder Eric Byrnes, two days after a late-game gaffe and bizarre exit from the stadium on a bicycle.
The punchless Mariners announced Sunday night that they also optioned infielder Matt Tuiasosopo to Triple-A Tacoma.
Seattle called up outfielder Ryan Langerhans and infielder Josh Wilson from Tacoma. Both will be in uniform Tuesday against Tampa Bay after today’s off day.
The Mariners signed Byrnes in January after Arizona released him. He was 3 for 32 (.094) in 15 games.
On Friday night, he inexplicably pulled his bat back on a botched suicide squeeze in extra innings of a scoreless game. Ichiro was tagged out on the play.
Rangers 3, Mariners 1 (11)
E—M.Young (5). LOB—Texas 6, Seattle 8. 2B—Jo.Lopez (4). RBIs—Dav.Murphy 2 (9), F.Gutierrez (14). SB—Andrus (8), Figgins 2 (7). CS—Bradley (2). S—Garko. SF—Dav.Murphy. RLISP—Texas 3 (Borbon, A.Blanco, Garko); Seattle 3 (I.Suzuki, Ro.Johnson 2). RMU—Treanor, J.Wilson. GIDP—I.Suzuki. DP—Texas 2 (Andrus, Smoak), (Garko, Andrus).
|Nippert W, 1-2||1||0||0||0||1||1||16||3.60|
|N.Feliz S, 5-6||1||0||0||0||0||1||8||4.97|
|Aardsma BS, 2-10||1||1||1||1||1||1||20||3.38|
|M.Lowe L, 1-3||1||3||2||1||1||1||24||3.48|
IR-S—Ray 1-0. IBB—off M.Lowe (Kinsler). HBP—by C.Wilson (Kotchman). PB—Ro.Johnson 2. T—3:16. A—27,185 (47,878).