SEATTLE – In the afternoon, the Seattle Mariners’ position players met and talked about the need for sound fundamental baseball, especially in their at-bats, as a way to end their current slump.
At night, at-bats became the least of Mariners’ issues.
The Mariners made four errors and committed multiple mistakes in the field, on the bases and, yes, at the plate in a 5-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays at Safeco Field.
And in the process of that meltdown, an angry Milton Bradley was pulled from the game after striking out in the sixth inning with the bases loaded. Manager Don Wakamatsu said only that it was time to pull Bradley.
The Mariners have lost four straight games, and in this one their misplays were the antithesis of the pitching-and-defense style they’re built around.
“We talk about being known for certain things,” Wakamatsu said. “Tonight was not one of those nights. We’re at a point right now where watching that game, I don’t know if anybody in this clubhouse was proud of it.
“There’s no excuse for the lack of defense from this ballclub. That’s something we’ll address and fix.”
At times, the mistakes resembled what you’d see in a rec-league softball game.
•Second baseman Chone Figgins botched a routine grounder for an error on the first play of the game.
•Shortstop Jack Wilson clanked a routine grounder for an error on the second play of the game, and then made two more errors. He misplayed a grounder in the fifth inning and made a bad throw to first base in the seventh, tripping over his feet after fielding a grounder.
•Ichiro Suzuki was picked off first base after a leadoff single in the first inning.
•Catcher Adam Moore committed a passed ball in the eighth inning and relief pitcher Jesus Colome followed that with a wild pitch, leading to a sacrifice fly that scored the Rays’ fifth run.
•Just after Wilson scored on a wild pitch to make the score 3-1 in the sixth, the Mariners wasted away their fourth bases-loaded opportunity in the past four games when Bradley and Ken Griffey Jr. struck out.
Bradley, inserted back into the No. 4 spot in the lineup, popped out in the first inning, struck out looking for the final out of the fourth with a runner on first base and looked at another third strike with the bases loaded in the sixth.
After that strikeout, Bradley walked slowly to the dugout and, as he began to descend the steps, flung his bat and then his helmet down another flight of steps. He never returned, replaced in the top of the seventh by Ryan Langerhans, the outfielder who the Mariners called up from Triple-A Tacoma after Sunday’s game.
Wakamatsu, who wasn’t at his usual spot on the dugout steps for the first batter in the top of the seventh, said only that it was time to get Bradley out of the game.
“With what went on with the two strikeouts, we got him out of the ballgame,” Wakamatsu said.
Asked to elaborate, the manager followed only with, “We felt at that time it was time to get him out.”
Relief pitcher Mark Lowe, who dealt with a bad lower back on the last road trip, had a magnetic resonance imaging exam on Tuesday. Wakamatsu didn’t know the results.
Mariners left-hander Jason Vargas became the third starting pitcher in four games to be victimized by his own team.
After needing to get essentially five outs to escape the first inning because of the errors, Vargas didn’t allow a hit until Ben Zobrist’s RBI double in the third inning. Vargas made it through 62/3 innings, allowing four hits and three runs, and setting a career high with eight strikeouts.
“It’s just one of those things. We caught couple of bad breaks on some hops and Jack loses his feet on that play up the middle,” Vargas said. “That’s going to happen. It’s too bad that it happened all at once.”
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