ARLINGTON, Texas – Seattle Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu has presented an even-keel front this season through every slump and slip-up.
But Tuesday night, after a tense game came crashing down for Seattle in an ultra-sloppy seventh inning, Wakamatsu’s frustration flashed to the surface.
The Mariners’ 7-1 loss to the Texas Rangers featured not only fielding lapses that drove Wakamatsu near the breaking point, but also a continuation of the team’s long-standing hitting woes.
The Mariners have scored one or zero runs in 10 games this season, and two runs in four others.
“We’re going to have to make some adjustments, or maybe look to make some changes,” he said afterward. “It’s at a point we’ve got to do something. We don’t have a lot of options.”
The Mariners’ lone bright spot in the game was easy to pinpoint: Left-hander Jason Vargas – replacing Carlos Silva in the rotation and making his first start since July 3, 2007 – limited the Rangers to one run, a Chris Davis homer, in five innings.
But a 1-1 tie disintegrated in the seventh, as the Rangers erupted for six runs off Mark Lowe. Three of the runs were unearned because of an error by first baseman Russ Branyan (one of two errors he made in the inning).
But Wakamatsu seemed more perturbed by a play made – or not made – by shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt on a ball hit up the middle by Andruw Jones, right after Josh Hamilton’s two-run homer had put Texas ahead 3-1.
Betancourt fielded the ball but threw wildly, a play generously ruled a hit. The Rangers went on to score five more runs.
“If he makes that play, we get out of the inning, and it’s 3-1,” Wakamatsu said. “Whether they gave it a hit or not, that play needs to be made.”
Of the seventh inning, Wakamatsu said, “If we play fundamental baseball and get beat, that’s one thing. But if we beat ourselves, that’s awfully irritating.”
And the Mariners’ hitting struggles are getting to be an annoyance, if bordering on a crisis. They managed just four hits in the game, including a run-scoring double by Kenji Johjima off Rangers starter Scott Feldman in the seventh for their only run of the game.
At least the manager had Vargas to rave about. The lefty had missed all of last season recovering from hip surgery, but earned a start after pitching well in four starts for Tacoma early in the season, then impressing with two strong relief outings after getting called up.
“It’s exactly what we were looking for from him,” Wakamatsu said.
“He did an outstanding job, located his fastball, mixed his pitches.”
In five innings, Vargas gave up five hits, one run, two walks and struck out three. He was lifted after throwing 73 pitches.
Rangers 7, Mariners 1
|Griffey Jr. dh||2||0||1||0||2||0||.225|
E—Branyan 2 (2). LOB—Seattle 5, Texas 11. 2B—Johjima (2), Kinsler (10), Byrd (13), Saltalamacchia (5). HR—C.Davis (9), off Vargas; Hamilton (3), off M.Lowe. RBIs—Johjima (7), Hamilton 2 (12), N.Cruz (22), C.Davis (17), Saltalamacchia (14), Andrus (7). SB—F.Gutierrez (1). CS—I.Suzuki (3). SF—N.Cruz. RLISP—Seattle 1 (Balentien); Texas 6 (Hamilton 4, Andrus 2). RMU—Y.Betancourt. GIDP—Hamilton. DP—Seattle 1 (Vargas, Y.Betancourt, Branyan).
|M.Lowe L, 0-1||2/3||5||6||3||0||0||4.70|
|Holland W, 1-1||1 2/3||0||0||0||0||0||1.74|
IR-s—White 1-1, Holland 1-0. WP—Feldman. T—2:50. A—16,564 (49,170).
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