ARLINGTON, Texas – With their longest of road odysseys finally completed, the Mariners now hope a taste of home brings them the consistency they’ve sought in two key areas.
Seattle will play its home opener tonight after two months of spring training, a trip to Japan, more Cactus League play and a two-city trip to begin the regular season. The final of those road games, a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon, underscored the inconsistency both on offense and in the bullpen that kept the Mariners from taking more than one of the four contests here.
The Mariners couldn’t get much going until late against Rangers starter Derek Holland, then saw the bullpen unable to keep things close enough once they did fight their way back in it.
“He’s just tough,” Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said of Holland, the young left-hander so key to the Rangers rotation. “Sometimes, that fastball rides. Sometimes it sails or sinks. The slider’s deceptive and if he gets that going with his velocity, it doesn’t matter who you are, it’s going to be tough regardless.”
The Mariners scored three runs in the ninth inning Wednesday night to rally for a 4-3 win, after being down 3-0. They attempted their latest comeback Thursday, also down 3-0 in the sixth, when Ryan led off with a double and was driven home by an Alex Liddi single.
Kyle Seager made it 3-2 by walloping an upper-deck solo home run to right field off Holland in the seventh, estimated at 438 feet. But Mariners starter Jason Vargas left with two out and a runner on third in the bottom of the inning, then saw reliever Erasmo Ramirez surrender a run-scoring double to Ian Kinsler and an RBI single to Michael Young that put things away.
Miguel Olivo doubled home a third Seattle run with two out in the ninth. But pinch-hitter Michael Saunders grounded out against Mike Adams to seal a third Seattle loss in four games in front of 31,513 at Rangers Ballpark.
“We just didn’t have the breakthrough inning,” said Ryan, whose hit off Holland was just the second by Seattle to that point. “I don’t know what our percentages were of getting the first guy on, but it just makes it tougher when you aren’t hitting the ball out of the yard.”