For the lack of runs, the Seattle Mariners lost to the Detroit Tigers on Monday. Twenty-four hours later they lost to the same team because they lacked pitching.
Can you say “great void?”
That’s what the Mariners are headed toward after a two-out single in the bottom of the ninth inning produced a 9-8 Tigers victory Tuesday and shoved Seattle’s nose into another .500 record.
And that’s not the biggest problem.
“We know Detroit can hit, we’ve seen that,” pitcher Bill Risley said, “and everybody knows about Cleveland.”
Wobbling badly at 32-32, Seattle has five games left before the All-Star break. One in Detroit, where the Mariners have lost six in a row, then four in Cleveland’s Jacobs Field, where Seattle has never won and the Indians only rarely lose.
“We’ve got to spank ‘em,” Risley said. “We’ll be OK.”
One night after their own ninth-inning rally failed in a 4-2 loss, the Mariners couldn’t hold late-inning leads of 7-6 and 8-7, and lost in the ninth inning when Bobby Ayala couldn’t hold off the Tigers.
It wasn’t just John Flaherty’s RBI single that beat Seattle and Ayala. This was a night of nightmares from the beginning, starting with the starting pitcher.
It was a game in which Detroit starter Mike Moore lasted only 3 1/3 innings - and at that went 2 2/3 longer than Seattle starter Salomon Torres, who got three outs and gave up four runs.
You needed more than a scorebook to follow this game, you needed your own scoreboard. Seattle led, 2-0, then trailed, 3-2, and a little later, 5-2. The Mariners rallied to tie at 5, fell behind, 6-5, went ahead 7-6 and were tied again at 7. After a pause for breath, the Mariners took another lead, 8-7, only to see Detroit rally back to tie it at 8.
And then? One out into the ninth inning, the rains came, the tarps came out and the two teams sat through a 37-minute weather delay.
Ayala was willing to start it up again after the rains subsided, but he got no favors from home plate umpire Derryl Cousins. On a 2-2 count, Ayala threw Franklin Stubbs a fastball that replays clearly showed caught the plate. Stubbs tensed, but Cousins called it ball three, and Ayala’s next pitch was out of the strike zone - and the Tigers had the base runner who would eventually win the game.
“We just never play normal games here,” Mike Blowers said. “Something weird always happens.”
This time, it happened every other inning, to both teams.
Tigers shortstop Chris Gomez tripled home the go-ahead run in one rally when center fielder Alex Diaz misjudged the ball, over-ran it, dove and missed.
Three innings later, Tigers center fielder Chad Curtis misjudged a drive, over-ran it and chased it down as Luis Sojo legged out a triple that broke another tie.
Bizarre? That wouldn’t cover this one.
Both teams committed a pair of errors and each saved itself at least once with a marvelous defensive play. Rookie Darren Bragg - a singles hitter all season - homered off the facade above the second deck in right field.
“The last time I hit a ball that far was in college, with an aluminum bat,” Bragg said.
Risley blew a save opportunity by giving up a 7-6 lead in the sixth inning. Ayala blew one by giving up an 8-7 lead in the eighth, then lost it in the ninth.
“We kept coming back, and if we want to be the team we think we can be, we’ve got to keep coming back from games like this,” Diaz said. “We can’t be thinking about after the All-Star break. We’ve got to think about these next five games.”
At times, the Mariners seemed on the verge of breaking away from Detroit. Jay Buhner’s two-out single in the first inning gave Torres a 2-0 lead, which he lost in the bottom of the inning before getting an out - touched for Travis Fryman’s threerun home run after hitting one batter and walking another.
The Mariners scrambled back to tie it at 5 on the solo home run by Bragg and a two-run double by Diaz in the fourth inning.
They rallied again in the sixth inning, overcoming a 6-5 deficit and pushing ahead, 7-6, on Joey Cora’s RBI single.
By the seventh, Seattle was tied again, and once more went ahead on a double by Blowers and Sojo’s triple.
None of it held up, and the Mariners are faced with trying to avoid dropping below .500 for the first time this year while playing five games in two cities in which they have not fared well.
Shortstop Felix Fermin had to be helped off the field in the first inning after turning a double play.
Tigers rookie Bobby Higginson slid hard into Fermin, bruising his left knee. Fermin will be re-examined today. “I was lucky. I don’t think it’s too bad,” Fermin said.
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