ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Seattle Mariners closer Danny Farquhar was a lone figure, waiting patiently by his locker for the media throng he knew was coming.
His teammates were in a private back kitchen area of the visitor’s clubhouse, grabbing a postgame meal after a 5-4 walkoff loss to the Tampa Bay Rays. Farquhar could have joined them and made the questions wait, but he seemed eager to tackle the aftermath of Wednesday night’s ninth-inning meltdown.
After all, the good closers learn to shrug off the good and the bad and this first blown save in six tries in his new role would definitely provide a test.
“The good thing is, I failed a ton in the minors,” he said. “I blew a lot of saves down there, so, tomorrow’s a new day. I’m a guy who’s got a pretty short memory. I’ll just try to forget about it and move on.”
But blowing a save in the minors doesn’t quite match up to doing it in the majors. The big league stage is bigger - even if the 14,910 fans at Tropicana Field didn’t quite represent a packed house - and so are the stakes.
Ben Zobrist drilled a ball off the top of the right-field wall to start the bottom of the ninth, and was awarded a triple upon video review. Matt Joyce followed with a single up the middle that tied the game.
Evan Longoria then ripped a ball down the left-field line for a double that put runners at second and third. Wil Myers was walked intentionally, and Jason Bourgeois then hammered a pitch over the head of a drawn-in Endy Chavez in right field to end it.
Five batters, all reaching base. By the time it was over, Farquhar had barely had time to catch his breath.
“The whole replay (thing) took a lot of time,” he said. “I’m usually a pretty quick worker. I don’t usually like time to think or time to worry about things. So, it didn’t bother me how fast it happened.”
Farquhar said he wasn’t trying to do anything different with hitters seeing him a second night in a row. He tried to mix his three pitches in steadily to keep the hitters off-balance, but wasn’t as sharp as he’d have liked.
“I just think it was bad execution of a lot of pitches,” he said. “Pitches up in the zone, in the middle of the plate. Major league hitters take advantage of that situation.”
And the Rays did on a night they trailed the Mariners from the first inning on. Facing Rays ace David Price for the first time, they got a quick run when Kendrys Morales singled to bring home Kyle Seager.
After the Rays tied it in the fourth off Seattle starter Aaron Harang, the Mariners erupted for three runs off Price in the fifth to go up 4-1. For the second night in a row, Brad Miller clubbed a big hit with a triple to the gap in left-center that scored a pair of runs.
Fellow Orlando-area native Nick Franklin followed by lining a double to the left-field corner to bring another run home.
Charlie Furbush replaced Harang with two on and none out and did a great job retiring the side, and the first two batters of the seventh. Medina carried things through four more outs to the ninth, but Farquhar simply couldn’t get it done in the ninth.