There were 10 occasions in Saturday night’s game when the patient Mariners were able to put runners on base without having to swing a bat.
A season-high nine walks and a hit batsman helped the home team make up for the fact it could only scatter seven hits against a scuffling starting pitcher and an erratic bullpen. But ultimately, the lack of solid hitting by the Mariners again did them in during this 4-3 loss in 10 innings to a Los Angeles Angels squad that did all it could to give this game away.
The Mariners drew three walks in the ninth inning to load the bases with two out against reliever Fernando Rodney, only to see Mike Sweeney ground out on a full-count offering. And then, reliever David Aardsma stumbled in the 10th as Hideki Matsui delivered a single the other way to left to bring the game’s decisive run home.
It was the 1,500th run batted in for Matusi in both the majors and Japan’s professional league combined. For the Mariners, it spelled an eighth consecutive defeat – all at home – and sent a crowd of 30,446 limping to the exits wondering about what might have been.
The Mariners appeared to make some offensive breakthroughs in this one, notching three runs in the fifth and sixth innings, on a triple by Ichiro Suzuki and a double by Sweeney, after entering the game dead last in the league in slugging percentage and total bases. But ultimately, the lack of a big hit in innings seven through nine, with the Mariners putting runners in scoring position each frame, resulted in the team’s 12th loss in 14 games.
The Mariners entered the game having scored just nine runs in their seven losses on the homestand. That’s an average of 1.24 runs and zero over the two previous nights.
Seattle quickly ran its scoreless streak to 22 innings against Angels starter Joe Saunders, who had been awful all season and entered the game sporting an earned-run average of 7.04. But the Mariners kept working counts off the lefty and the number of pitches thrown was climbing sky high by the middle innings.
With two on and two out in the fifth, trailing 3-0, Ichiro finally got to him, lining a ball to left field for what looked like a certain single and maybe more. Juan Rivera raced over to cut the ball off but had it skip off the short retaining wall and rolled by him all the way to the wall.
By the time Rivera got the ball back in, two runs had scored and Ichiro was standing on third with a triple.
Saunders survived the rest of that inning but got into trouble again in the sixth when he issued his fourth walk of the game, this one to Franklin Gutierrez, who promptly stole second.
One out and another walk later, Sweeney delivered his two-out gapper to left center to bring the Mariners even once again.
Mariners starter Doug Fister delivered seven quality innings again, scattering eight hits and allowing only three runs.
He allowed a solo homer to right by Kendry Morales in the fourth inning and two more runs in the fifth when, with the bases loaded and two out, Torii Hunter fouled off several two-strike pitches before hitting a flare the opposite way to right field.
Ichiro appeared to have a play on the ball, but took a less-than-direct route and slowed up at the end, allowing it to drop in front of him for a two-run single.
For a moment, it appeared the three-run lead would decide the contest, because the Mariners had scored three runs or fewer in 10 of their last 11 games. But Ichiro’s triple quickly got the two runs right back and the Mariners kept pressing.
They had a chance to score in the seventh when Rob Johnson, who’d made a lunging catch of an attempted bunt by Mike Napoli in the top of the inning, led things off with a single.
Johnson made it to third base with two out, but, with runners at the corners, Gutierrez was called out on a checked swing to send the tie game to the eighth.
Seattle had another opportunity in the eighth, when, with one on and two out, a knuckler hit by Josh Wilson changed direction when it hit the dirt and skirted past second baseman Howie Kendrick for a hit. But later, with runners at second and third, Johnson went down swinging.
Hernandez feels fine
One day after he lasted only 31/3 innings in a second straight ineffective start, Mariners right-hander Felix Hernandez was fine physically.
In his previous start against the Rangers, Hernandez was pulled after 41/3 innings because of a bad back.
“Felix had no physical problems last night and was fine today,” manager Don Wakamatsu said. “What you saw last night was a pitcher trying to create things – he had about eight different deliveries. That’s why you saw him throwing fastballs from 91-97 mph.”
Angels 4, M’s 3 (10)
E—Frandsen (1). LOB—Los Angeles 9, Seattle 12. 2B—E.Aybar (7), B.Abreu (11), Jo.Lopez (5), M.Sweeney (1). 3B—I.Suzuki (2). HR—K.Morales (7), off Fister. RBIs—Tor.Hunter 2 (16), K.Morales (22), H.Matsui (14), I.Suzuki 2 (5), M.Sweeney (3). SB—F.Gutierrez (3), Jo.Wilson (1). CS—Figgins (3). S—H.Kendrick, Figgins. RLISP—Los Angeles 5 (B.Abreu 2, K.Morales, E.Aybar, H.Kendrick); Seattle 8 (Jo.Wilson 2, Figgins, F.Gutierrez, Ro.Johnson 2, M.Sweeney 2). RMU—I.Suzuki, Figgins, Kotchman. GIDP—J.Rivera, Figgins, Jo.Lopez. DP—Los Angeles 2 (E.Aybar, H.Kendrick, K.Morales), (H.Kendrick, E.Aybar, K.Morales); Seattle 1 (Jo.Wilson, Figgins, Kotchman).
|Rodney W, 3-0||1||0||0||0||3||0||27||2.45|
|Fuentes S, 4-5||1||0||0||0||0||2||14||4.05|
|Aardsma L, 0-2||1 1/3||4||1||1||1||0||29||3.75|
IR-S—Bulger 2-0, Kelley 2-0. IBB—off Aardsma (K.Morales). HBP—by Bulger (Kotchman). T—3:28. A—30,446 (47,878).