HOUSTON – By the fourth inning, defeat was a given for the Mariners. Really, the only questions for the last five interminable innings of Sunday’s 13-0 shellacking at the hands of the Astros were these:
When or would Seattle get a hit?
How much would the Mariners lose by?
Seattle avoided the embarrassment of being no-hit when Austin Jackson doubled into the left-field corner with one out in the sixth inning off of Houston reliever Tony Sipp.
Houston broke the double-figures mark against Seattle for the second time in the series in a trouncing that dropped the Mariners to 28-35.
“It wasn’t much of a game,” manager Lloyd McClendon said.
It really wasn’t much of a game after the third inning. The Mariners didn’t pitch, didn’t hit and didn’t score.
“You lose 13-0, not a lot goes right,” said third baseman Kyle Seager.
The two losses to the Astros in the three-game series were dreadful. The fact that Seattle rolled to an 8-1 win on Saturday was overshadowed by two shutouts by a combined score of 23-0.
It’s still not certain if the Astros, who are now 36-28 and 71/2 games up Seattle, are this good. But it’s getting more difficult to defend the premise that the Mariners, who dropped to 2-10 against Houston this season, aren’t this bad.
Seattle is 3-11 over the last 14 games and sinking slowly in their own malaise and misfortune.
“We were playing good and we’ve hit another lull,” Seager said. “We have two options: You can hang your head and feel sorry for yourself or get back to work and keep grinding.”
But grinding has to lead to producing. The Mariners are a collective failure of execution with different aspects of their attack faltering while others are surging.
In the two losses to Houston, the pitching was horrendous.
Roenis Elias tossed out his worst outing of his career at the worst possible time. The young lefty didn’t make it out of the fourth inning, lasting just 31/3 innings and giving up eight runs (seven earned) on seven hits with four walks, two strikeouts and a hit by pitch. He allowed a total of 13 baserunners.
“Today, nothing was working,” Elias said through an interpreter. “I struggled with my fastball command.”
It started immediately. Elias walked the first batter of the game – George Springer – and it just got worse from there, specifically a hit by pitch on strikeout machine Chris Carter with a 0-2 count. Houston totaled three runs in the inning thanks to a two-run single from Colby Rasmus and a Seager error on a routine ground ball with two outs.
“I came up on it,” Seager said of the error. “I thought it was going to bounce up and it stayed down. That’s certainly a play I should make.”
A 3-0 lead didn’t seem impossible to overcome with eight more innings to play. But it became 5-0 in the third inning when Jake Marisnick lined a two-out double to right-center to score a run and Elias issued back-to-back walks to force in a run.
“We couldn’t get the first-pitch strike,” said catcher Jesus Sucre. “We didn’t get anything over. His last few outings have been really good. I don’t know what happened today.”
A five-run deficit for a Mariners team – which had been held hitless to that point by Astros starter Lance McCullers, who was neither sharp or overpowering – might as well have been a 15-run deficit.
Houston knocked Elias out of the game with one out in the fourth inning, on a Colby Rasmus RBI hit.
Mariners pitchers allowed plenty of hits, a total of 14. Relievers Mark Lowe, Charlie Furbush and Carson Smith all gave up runs.
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