SEATTLE – This time, the offense wasn’t the problem.
There have been so many games where tepid hitting and lack of runs could be pinpointed as the downfall of the Mariners.
But on a sunny and cool Mother’s Day, the 30,447 fans at Safeco Field got more than enough offense to cheer about. Seattle scored seven runs on 11 hits with two home runs.
And yet that wasn’t enough, thanks to some lackluster defense.
The Mariners were charged with five errors – though it could have been more. The five errors resulted in two unearned runs, but led to many more.
Add it up and it resulted in a 9-7 loss. The Mariners (19-18) split a four-game series with Kansas City. It was an opportunity wasted.
“Listen, we didn’t play a very good game,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “You can analyze it anyway you want to. I told my team that. We didn’t play very good. We kicked ourselves … today. It’s that simple.”
McClendon had no interest in discussing the five errors and the other suspect plays in the field. He was clearly agitated with what he saw.
“One thing I don’t do is make excuses for guys,” he said. “The onus is on my players in that locker room today. If you’ve got questions about errors, go talk to them.”
Dustin Ackley, who didn’t make an error but did hit two home runs, served as the defense’s spokesman.
“Sometimes they are as contagious as hitting,” Ackley said of the errors. “We got to scratch this one. It was a tough game. I think we should have won it. But we are going to have these games. I think we are also going to have games that we aren’t supposed to win that we do win. It’s one of those things where we have to come back strong tomorrow.”
Even with the inconsistent glove work in the field, the Mariners held a 7-5 lead going into the seventh inning.
After 16 scoreless innings, the bullpen finally cracked.
Danny Farquhar gave up a double to Eric Hosmer to start the inning. Farquhar came back to strike out Billy Butler, but walked Danny Valencia and Alex Gordon to load the bases. Farquhar threw borderline pitches to both Valencia and Gordon with two strikes that were called balls. Judging by his reaction, the reaction of catcher Mike Zunino and the Mariners dugout, they didn’t agree with the calls of plate umpire Marcus Pattillo – a Class AAA umpire working this series.
“It’s tough and it happens, but you have to move on,” Farquhar said of the calls. “You can’t let the inning build on that. And I didn’t execute pitches like I wanted to.”
With the bases loaded, Lorenzo Cain hit a sacrifice fly to center field to score a run. With two outs, Johnny Giovatella jumped all over a first-pitch cutter and hammered it into the visitor’s bullpen in left field for a three-run homer.
Farquhar (University of Louisiana-Lafayette) played against Giovatella (New Orleans) in college and saw him do that to other pitchers on the first pitch.
“I kind of knew he was an ambusher,” Farquhar said.
“I should have been more locked in and executed the first pitch better.”
The Mariners got an uneven start from Roenis Elias. His command of his pitches came and went for much of his outing. He lasted five innings, giving up five runs (three earned) on nine hits with a walk and five strikeouts.
While Elias’ command wasn’t good, the defense behind him was worse. In the second inning, the Royals hit a pair of ground balls to third base sandwiched around a single to left field from Alex Gordon. The first ground ball, which short-hopped Kyle Seager as he moved to his left, was ruled a hit for Valencia. The second ball – a routine two-hopper off the bat of Cain – that should have been a double play-was ruled an error when Seager simply misplayed it.
Regardless of the official scoring, it loaded the bases for Alcides Escobar, who hit the first pitch for his first grand slam.