SEATTLE – Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon smirked. He was about to say something he had said many times before, and he was about to say it because he had watched something that had happened many times before.
“We struggled to score runs today?” McClendon said, throwing the question back and laughing. “Listen, I’ve said it all along: We’re a club that’s challenged offensively.”
Further proof came in the form of a 3-2 defeat Thursday against the New York Mets in front of 36,224 people at Safeco Field. Mets starter Bartolo Colon was perfect for 62/3 innings against the Mariners before Robinson Cano singled in the seventh.
The Mariners now have lost five of their past seven games and eight of their past 12.
“The last thing we can do is hang our head and start worrying about it,” Cano said. “We just have to turn the page and just move on.”
The story for most of the day centered on Colon, the Mets’ 41-year-old pitcher built like a jukebox who flirted with perfection. Colon retired the first 20 hitters he faced before Cano stroked a sharp single to left field with two outs in the seventh inning.
“Today was (Colon’s) day,” McClendon said. “I’m not going to sit here and overanalyze that. We lost the ballgame. We’ll be OK.”
The Mariners’ best chance at a breakthrough came in the eighth inning. Corey Hart led off with a walk and Dustin Ackley followed with a single. Brad Miller ripped a deep line drive that missed a home run by a couple of feet. He instead settled for a run-scoring double off the top of the wall that cut the Mets’ lead to 3-1 and put runners on second and third with one out.
McClendon elected to send Willie Bloomquist to the plate instead of Jesus Sucre, the starting catcher Wednesday. Bloomquist hit a grounder up the middle that scored a run and the Mets’ lead was only 3-2. Bloomquist initially was called safe at first, but the call was overturned and he was called out. Endy Chavez then struck out to end the inning.
Taijuan Walker, the Mariners’ prized pitching prospect and the subject of nearly every trade rumor involving the Mariners, kept Seattle in the fight with a seesaw outing.
First, the good. Walker consistently worked in the mid-90s with his fastball, displaying the kind of power that makes him so intriguing. He struck out five hitters and didn’t let the first inning get away from him after putting the first two batters of the game on base.
“It was a step in the right direction,” Walker said. “A lot more positives than negatives.”
But there were some negatives. Walker pointed right away to the number of walks he issued – six in just five innings.