SEATTLE – Four long weeks have passed since the Mariners walked into Anaheim and took the first two games of a series against the division-rival Angels.
But so much has happened to the Mariners since that California moment allowed them to move a season-high six games over .500. One of the most telling, after the Mariners dropped a 3-0 decision to the Angels here Thursday night, is that Seattle has gone almost an entire month without winning consecutive games.
They had a chance to do it here, sending one of their top pitchers, Erik Bedard, to the mound and facing a lefty in Joe Saunders instead of the usual right-handers who tend to tie them in knots. But the result, as it has been so often over the past month, ended up being the same.
“As far as winning consecutive games, I think we’ve played some awfully good baseball,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu had said before his team lost for the third time in four nights to the Angels in front of 18,468 at Safeco Field. “And that’s what I care about. If we continue to play like we did last (Wednesday) night, then obviously that was a gem. But if we play consistent baseball, then our record will fall where it should.”
The Mariners had a similar streak at exactly the same time a year ago, going a month and a day without winning consecutive games until doing so May 17 and 18 against San Diego. They are now just a few days shy of the one-month mark on those two straight wins over the Angels on April 24 and 25,
Wakamatsu has a point about some of the good baseball. Had Brandon Morrow, who threw two dominant innings of scoreless middle relief on Thursday, striking out three batters, been able to close out a pair of games in Texas, then the Mariners would have had their consecutive wins a week ago.
But the baseball hasn’t all been good, as witnessed by the recent benching of Yuniesky Betancourt and Adrian Beltre and the public dressing down of Felix Hernandez. And as good as the Mariners were at times on the mound in this one, with five decent innings from Bedard and another strong bullpen performance, the offense was putrid once again.
The Mariners were down 2-0 in the fifth, on solo homers by Juan Rivera in the first and Gary Matthews Jr. in the third, when Jose Lopez and Betancourt led off with singles against Angels lefty Joe Saunders. But once again, the bats faltered when it mattered as Franklin Gutierrez popped out foul and Ichiro nearly grounded into an inning-ending double-play.
Ichiro’s quick feet kept the inning alive, putting runners at the corners with two out and the struggling Beltre due up. But Ichiro promptly took the bat out of Beltre’s hands when he broke for second base just as Saunders was beginning a pickoff move toward first base.
The same thing had occurred two innings before and Ichiro actually beat the relay to second that time. But not on this occasion, as the Angels caught him in a rundown.
Lopez, as he has to in that situation, broke for the plate to try to score before Ichiro was tagged out. But the next throw went to the plate and Lopez was caught in a rundown of his own and eventually tagged out.
It was the last real chance the Mariners had to get back into it. After Morrow’s dominant outing, lefty Garrett Olson served up an eighth inning solo homer to Howie Kendrick and the Mariners fell back to four games under .500.
Angels 3, Mariners 0
|Matthews Jr. rf||3||1||1||1||0||1||.278|
LOB—Los Angeles 4, Seattle 7. HR—J.Rivera (3), off Bedard; Matthews Jr. (1), off Bedard; Kendrick (4), off Olson. RBIs—J.Rivera (13), Matthews Jr. (13), Kendrick (20). SB—I.Suzuki (6), Branyan (2). CS—Jo.Lopez (2). RLISP—Los Angeles 2 (J.Rivera 2); Seattle 4 (Jo.Lopez 2, Beltre, Johjima). RMU—Johjima. GIDP—Hunter, Beltre. DP—Los Angeles 1 (E.Aybar, Kendrick, K.Morales); Seattle 1 (Y.Betancourt, Jo.Lopez, Branyan).
|Saunders W, 6-2||7||4||0||0||3||3||3.17|
|S.Shields H, 6||1||1||0||0||0||1||6.89|
|Fuentes S, 11-13||1||1||0||0||0||0||4.30|
|Bedard L, 2-2||5||2||2||2||2||6||2.64|
IR-S—Stark 2-0. WP—Stark. T—2:46. A—18,468 (47,878).
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