OAKLAND, Calif. – More of the same Saturday for the Mariners. A still-punchless lineup, another road loss and the search for answers continues for another day.
Lefty Ariel Miranda quickly squandered a one-run lead by giving up two homers in the first inning – and that proved too much for the Mariners to overcome in a 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics.
“Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us because of the way we’re going right now,” said center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who had two of the Mariners’ nine hits. “They’re going to try to bury us even more.
“We’ve just got to look at ourselves in the mirror, man, and get it done. Point blank.”
“No doubts,” Dyson insisted. “No doubts at all. I don’t see anybody with doubts. And if we do, we’ll say something about that.”
Maybe so, but the Mariners have nine losses in 10 road games, including six in a row, and need a victory Sunday to avoid a four-game sweep at the Oakland Coliseum before heading east to Detroit and Cleveland.
The chief problem isn’t hard to identify.
The Mariners have scored 32 runs while batting .195 in their 10 road games. In contrast, they batted .268 while scoring 47 runs while going 6-3 in a recent homestand.
“Our guys certainly fought and battled today,” manager Scott Servais said. “We just didn’t get the big hit when we needed it. It’s been happening. It’s been happening on the road a lot.
“One of these days we will line up the pitching with the hitting. It is bound to happen. It’s baseball. Right now, it’s not going our way.”
For all of that, the Mariners made it interesting in the closing innings after doing little against starter Jharel Cotton and reliever Frankie Montas.
Oakland led 4-2 when Robinson Cano started the eighth with a single – his third hit of the game –against Daniel Coulombe. In came Liam Hendriks, who walked Nelson Cruz.
Taylor Motter grounded into a double play, but Kyle Seager batted for Danny Valencia and drove an RBI triple off the center-field wall. Jaff Decker appeared to have a play on the ball but mistimed his leap.
Ryan Madson replaced Hendriks and retired Guillermo Heredia on a grounder to second. Madson then yielded a two-out single in the ninth to Dyson, who stole second, before striking out Mitch Haniger.
“We’re playing a lot of tight games,” Seager said. “We have a good team. We’re just a little unlucky right now and not necessarily firing on all cylinders. But we’ll get this squared away and go on a nice little run.”
Miranda (1-2) threw seven shutout innings in his last start against Miami but lasted just three-plus innings before the Mariners turned to their bullpen after Matt Joyce’s leadoff singe in the fourth.
That provided a highlight.
Rookie Chase De Jong, recalled Friday from Triple-A Tacoma, provided the Mariners with a comeback opportunity by pitching four shutout innings.
Cotton (2-2) limited the Mariners to two runs and six hits through six innings before handing a two-run lead to Montas, who worked an eight-pitch seventh inning.
The Mariners opened the scoring for the third straight day. Cano turned around 94-mph fastball on a 1-2 count for a 415-foot homer to center field with two outs in the first inning.
That lead lasted until Miranda’s third pitch in the bottom of the inning. Adam Rosales tied the game with a 410-foot drive to center field.
Jed Lowrie then lined a single to left, which brought pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr. to the mound for a quick chat.
It had no effect.
Ryon Healy cranked a full-count fastball over the left-field scoreboard for a two-run homer and a 3-1 lead. Miranda steadied after that but still required 37 pitches to get through the first inning.
“Ariel just didn’t have much on the ball,” Servais said. “Locating the fastball was an issue. They jumped on him early. He got some pitches up in the zone, and they didn’t miss them.”
The Mariners closed to 3-2 on Nelson Cruz’s sacrifice fly in the third inning but left two runners on base when Danny Valencia popped out.
Again, the Athletics responded immediately.
Lowrie opened the Oakland third with a single through the left side and went to third on Healy’s double off the glove of a diving Mike Freeman at third base. Lowrie scored on Khris Davis’ grounder to short.
It stayed 4-2 until the eighth.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners, trailing 4-2, put their first two runners on base in the eighth inning, but Motter grounded into a double play. That meant only run run scored when Seager followed with a pinch triple.
PLUS: Cano went 3 for 4 with a homer and raised his average to .257…Cruz had a single, two walks and a sacrifice fly. His average is up to .258…Dyson went 2 for 5 with two steals and is batting .242.
MINUS: Motter might be coming back to earth. He was hitless in three at-bats (with a walk), which dropped his average to .239. He is 2-for-18 in his last five games…A return to Oakland, where he played in 2015-16, hasn’t perked up Valencia, who is 1 for 10 in the series. His average is down to .145…Mike Zunino was 0 for 4 with two strikeouts. His average is down to .188, and he has 19 strikeouts in 48 at-bats.
STAT PACK: The Mariners were 1 for 9 with runners in scoring position. They are 13 for 82 (.159) in their 10 road games.
QUOTABLE: De Jong’s four scoreless innings came in his second big-league appearance. His first came April 5 in Houston and ended in a walk-off loss when he allowed a three-run homer to George Springer.
Saturday’s performance dropped his ERA from 40.50 to 5.79.
“It was adrenaline that gets you through it,” he said. “That was a lot of fun. I was just happy that I was able to go in there and give the team innings. I know that’s what they needed me to do.”
SHORT HOPS: Dyson’s streak of successful stolen bases ended at 16 when he tried for a delayed steal after a leadoff bunt single in the third inning. He was thrown out by Josh Phegley. Dyson was successful in stealing second base with two outs in the ninth inning. That put the tying run in scoring position, but Haniger struck out.
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