SEATTLE – With one game remaining, the Seattle Mariners have attached themselves to a couple of numbers that were difficult for anyone to imagine when the season began.
Saturday night’s 5-3 loss to the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field left the Mariners with 100 losses.
“I don’t look at it as a milestone,” said manager Daren Brown, who is 19-30 after taking Aug. 9 after Don Wakamatsu was fired. “A milestone is something you’re going to remember.”
Speaking for forgettable numbers, there’s also this:
Michael Saunders’ solo home run in the ninth inning, the Mariners’ first homer in 34 innings, gave them 101 for the season.
The lack of power was a concern going into the season, and it has been one reason the faltering offense has factored into such a poor year. Barring a home-run barrage in today’s finale, the Mariners will finish with the fewest in the major leagues.
The next-closest team?
It’s the A’s, who also entered this four-game series with 100 but now are well ahead of the M’s with 107.
After hitting two homers in each of the first two games in the series, the A’s added three Saturday night off Mariners starting pitcher David Pauley. All but one of the four hits allowed by Pauley in his seven innings left the premises.
Pauley had cruised through three perfect innings, plus two outs into the fourth, before Mark Ellis lined a 2-0 pitch over the wall near the left-field corner for a 1-0 A’s lead.
Four pitches later, A’s cleanup hitter Jack Cust turned Pauley’s fastball into a 2-0 lead – thanks to some good fortune for the A’s. Cust’s fly to left-center hit Saunders’ glove, then bounced off the padding atop the wall and into the Mariners’ bullpen for a homer.
The A’s got Pauley again in the fifth when Chris Carter hit his second homer of the series, a two-run blow deep into the A’s bullpen in left field.
Rookie Dan Cortes pitched the eighth and ninth for the Mariners, allowing two hits and a run.
The Mariners scored runs in the fourth and sixth innings to keep the game close but wasted three other chances with runners at second base and nobody out.
It’s the type of baseball that happens when a team is looking at its young players like the Mariners are now. They started six players who spent considerable time in the minor leagues this season, and nobody among the last six hitters in the lineup went into the game batting better than .229.
“One-hundred losses are nothing that anybody wants, but we had five rookies in the lineup and pitched a couple tonight,” Brown said. “For me, that’s looking toward the future and seeing what our options are going to be come 2011.”