ST. LOUIS – The perils of a youth-dominated Seattle Mariners team were on display for all to see in the crucial moments of this record-setting extra-inning defeat.
Mariners catcher Mike Zunino failed to corral an Oliver Perez pitch in the 10th inning Friday night, allowing the decisive run to score in a 2-1 defeat against the St. Louis Cardinals.
Prior to that, in the eighth, rookie second baseman Nick Franklin dropped a pop-up and shortstop Brad Miller bounced a throw on the back end of a double-play attempt as the Cardinals scored the tying run.
It all added up to a club-record 13th extra-inning defeat on a night the Mariners wasted seven scoreless innings from starting pitcher Hisashi Iwakuma.
“It’s our youth, you saw it again tonight,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said after his team’s fifth consecutive defeat. “Multiple plays that had to be made. We’ve got a lot of young players up here. They’re very inexperienced. They’re up here to help us win but they’re also up here to play them, watch them, evaluate them and let them know what they need to work on.”
Right now, winning some games would be on the list. The M’s have dropped 15 of their past 21 to fall a season-worst 17 games below .500.
It looked like they might notch an upset in this series opener against Cardinals staff ace Adam Wainwright.
Iwakuma allowed just three hits over seven innings to silence a Busch Stadium crowd of 40,506 and Zunino’s first home run since returning from a broken bone in his hand had Seattle up 1-0 in the eighth.
But then came the miscues by Franklin and Miller that allowed the Cardinals to tie the game.
There were two out and none on in the 11th when Peter Kozma singled off Chance Ruffin. Oliver Perez came on from there, walked two batters to load the bases, then saw Zunino fail to squeeze his first pitch to Matt Holliday.
“It was just one of those things where it was to my glove side and I just sort of lost track of it,” Zunino said.