WASHINGTON — The Seattle Mariners lost three one-run games, blew a huge lead in the opener, fell below .500 for the first time since May 29, wasted three superb starting pitching efforts, and continued to succumb to their anemic offense.
But lo and behold, they weren’t the team dealing with the most turmoil Thursday at Nationals Park.
That’s because shortly after the Nationals had beaten the Mariners 1-0 in walkoff fashion for their 11th win in 12 games, Washington manager Jim Riggleman resigned his post, citing a contract dispute with general manager Mike Rizzo.
Word was just starting to filter through the Mariners’ clubhouse as the team prepared to head for the airport, burdened by their own troubles. Such as: Are they ever going to solve their ongoing offensive woes?
“We’ve got to keep harping on getting this offense going,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We have to loosen things up a little bit there.”
Michael Pineda became the latest Seattle starter to excel in a losing cause, blanking the Nationals on four hits over seven innings, with nine strikeouts. But the M’s were similarly stymied by Washington starter Jason Marquis, and the Nationals pushed across a run off Chris Ray in the bottom of the ninth to win it on a sacrifice fly by Laynce Nix.
Doug Fister, Erik Bedard and Pineda combined to give up just one earned run in 21 innings for a 0.43 earned-run average in the series. But after moving ahead 5-0 in the fifth inning of the first game (a lead that came crashing down with a five-run rally by the Nationals in the bottom of the ninth), the Mariners hit .165 (13 for 79) the rest of the series.
Alluding to the starters’ good work, Adam Kennedy said, “That’s an everyday occurrence. We go through times like this. It’s just frustrating. We had our chances, but we didn’t take advantage.”
“We had our chances” could qualify as the Mariners’ team motto. Wedge tried to jump-start the offense by putting rookie Dustin Ackley in the No. 2 hole, and said before the game that Kennedy will get increased playing time at third ahead of struggling Chone Figgins. But the Mariners had just three runners in scoring position, and couldn’t get any of them home.
Nationals 1, Mariners 0
|Hairston Jr. lf||4||0||1||0||0||1||.253|
E—Smoak (5). LOB—Seattle 6, Washington 8. 2B—Smoak (18), Bernadina (6), Werth (14). RBIs—L.Nix (28). S—I.Rodriguez. SF—L.Nix. RLISP—Seattle 3, Washington 3. GIDP—Smoak. DP—Seattle 1, Washington 1.
|Ray L, 3-2||2/3||2||1||1||0||0||5.57|
|Clippard W, 1-0||1||1||0||0||0||2||1.85|
WP—Pineda. T—2:35. A—21,161 (41,506).