The Mariners on Sunday reached the halfway point of a season that has featured some encouraging signs, but overshadowed by a staggering inability to hit in their home ballpark.
Their 2-1 loss in 10 innings to the Red Sox at Safeco Field was merely a variation on a drearily familiar theme. The Mariners squandered numerous early opportunities to stretch a 1-0 lead, and watched Dustin Pedroia tie it with an eighth-inning homer off Jason Vargas. The Sox won it in the 10th on a David Ortiz sacrifice fly, pinning the loss on Brandon League.
“We had plenty of guys that had an opportunity up there to have a big hit for us,” said Mariners manager Eric Wedge, who has done a lot of fuming this weekend. “When you make the starting pitcher (Boston’s Felix Doubrant) throw 100 pitches in four innings and a third, you have to do a hell of a lot more than that. This is a game we should have been in a better position to win in the end.”
Vargas, aided by a great diving catch by third baseman Kyle Seager with the bases loaded in the second, blanked the Red Sox for seven innings and deserved a better fate. His lone blemish was Pedroia’s one-out homer in the eighth, which ended a 162 at-bat homerless streak for the former American League MVP. “Him solving the Vargas mystery … that was vintage,” Red Sox manager Bobby Valentine said.
It was not much of a mystery to Vargas.
“Just one pitch,” he shrugged. “I was pretty good the rest of the day.
He’s shown he can put his team on his back when he needs to. I wouldn’t take it back. It was a fastball away. For him to hook it out of this park, you tip your hat and go get the next two guys.”
The Mariners left eight on base, five in scoring position. Wedge was most irked by the fourth, which started promisingly with two walks. But Dustin Ackley couldn’t get a bunt down and wound up striking out, Miguel Olivo was caught in a rundown after a ball got away from the catcher, and Chone Figgins grounded out.
Wedge noted with irritation that the Mariners have not executed bunts well recently.
“I’ve not been pleased with that,” he said. “It’s something we work on daily, but obviously we have to do more than that. When you’re in those situations, especially when you’re struggling to score runs like we are, you have to execute even more to get runners in scoring position.”
Assessing his team at the halfway point, Wedge said, “We have works in progress with a lot of individuals. Every player we have, to a man, needs to be honest with themselves and assess where they are, physically, fundamentally and mentally, and work to be that much better in the second half. If everyone takes care of their own backyard, the wins will take care of themselves.”
Ramirez to DL
The Mariners have placed right-hander Erasmo Ramirez on the 15-day disabled list with a right elbow flexor strain.
Seattle called up reliever Josh Kinney from Triple-A Tacoma to take his spot. To make space on the 40-man roster, the Mariners designated oft-injured catcher Adam Moore for assignment.
Ramirez felt tightness in his elbow during Saturday’s start against Boston.