SEATTLE – Traction remains maddenly elusive for the Seattle Mariners as the All-Star break approaches.
A pulsating walk-off victory Tuesday night in 11 innings produced no follow-up momentum Wednesday afternoon in a 5-4 loss to the Detroit Tigers at Safeco Field.
The biggest bugaboo was all-too-familiar: The Mariners were hitless in 14 at-bats with runners in scoring position. Yep, squat-for-14 with RISP in a one-run loss.
“We had a bunch of chances – me in particular,” said Dustin Ackley, who hit a two-run homer but also stranded five runners. “I had a couple of more (chances) with guys on base with two outs, and I wasn’t able to get it done.”
He had company.
“We scored four runs,” acting manager Trent Jewett said. “Obviously, we had plenty of opportunities to push a lot more across. Didn’t get that done. You’d certainly like to be more efficient in those spots, and we weren’t.
“I don’t think it’s completely uncommon to us. It’s happened previously.”
So here the Mariners sit, still spinning their wheels at 39-46, with just a four-game series against American League West-rival Los Angeles before the four-game break arrives.
The Tigers and Mariners combined for 14 homers over the three-game series, which matched a Safeco Field record. Detroit had nine of them, but the winning run Wednesday scored on a sacrifice fly.
It was 4-4 in the seventh inning when rookie Mayckol Guaipe, after a scoreless sixth, gave up one-out singles to Yoenis Cespedes and and Victor Martinez before loading the bases by hitting J.D. Martinez.
Nick Castellanos sent a fly to center that was deep enough to score Cespedes with the go-ahead run, but Martinez was thrown out in trying to advance to third.
The run counted because Cespedes crossed the plate before the third out.
That was the difference.
Detroit starter Anibal Sanchez (8-7) exited after a one-out walk to Nelson Cruz in the seventh on his 113th pitch. Blaine Hardy struck out pinch-hitter Franklin Gutierrez before the Tigers went to their bullpen again.
Al Albuquerque gave up a single to Mark Trumbo that moved Cruz to second but retired Ackley on a fly to left. Albuquerque worked through the eighth before Joakim Soria closed out the victory.
The Mariners didn’t go quietly.
Soria issued a pair of two-out walks before striking out Trumbo, who had three of the Mariners’ six hits, on a split-finger fastball on a full count.
“I saw every one of his pitches,” Trumbo said. “The pitch to hit was probably the breaking ball that I fouled off. That’s 20 miles an hour slower than his fastball. Then he threw a nice split-finger to end it.
“There’s a reason he’s a pretty good pitcher.”
Guaipe (0-2) was the loser for the second time in three days.
In the end, though, it’s hard to get past 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position.
“I think the situation can kind of get the best of us sometimes,” Ackley said. “We’re trying to do too much and win it ourselves instead of keeping it simple.”
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