SEATTLE – It wasn’t Ben Gamel’s inability to make a tough diving catch Tuesday night in the 11th inning on Albert Pujols’ slicing drive to right field that ultimately sent the Mariners to a 6-4 loss to the Los Angeles Angels.
It was what came next.
Gamel overthrew the relay man, second baseman Robinson Cano, as Mike Trout raced around the bases with the tie-breaking run. That eliminated any chance for a play at the plate.
Trout scored, and the Angels had the lead.
“I’ve got to make a better throw,” Gamel said. “That’s on me.”
It got worse.
Reliever James Pazos ignored Pujols at second base, and Pujols took advantage by rumbling to third for a stolen base. That turned into another run when the Mariners couldn’t turn a double play later in the inning.
“That’s just a mental error,” Pazos said. “That can’t happen, especially in a situation like that. We’ve got to keep him on second. If we keep him on second, he doesn’t score. That’s on me.”
Bottom line: Another crushing loss in a growing collection of crushing losses. The Mariners (11-16) are 0-4 against the Angels with three of those losses coming, like Tuesday, after squandering a multi-run lead.
“We didn’t play the game the right way,” manager Scott Servais said, “and it caught us tonight.”
Pazos (0-1) started the 11th inning by striking out Kole Calhoun, who had given the Angels a 4-3 lead in the eighth inning with a two-run homer against Edwin Diaz.
Trout then drew a four-pitch walk, but Pazos jumped ahead 0-2 on Pujols before allowing the count to go full.
“Just too fine in trying to put him away,” Pazos said. “I was trying to make a pitch too nasty, and I ended up losing him.”
Pujols sliced a 97-mph fastball to right. Gamel raced over and made a diving attempt that came up short. Trout held up to see whether Gamel would make the catch but began sprinting when the ball hit the ground.
“A hard-hit line drive toward the line,” Gamel said. “I just came up a little short. It was the only play I thought I had at the time. If I stop and try to keep it in front, I think it’s going to skip off the grass.
“I think it was the only play I had.”
The high throw to Cano, though, was decisive.
“I thought we had a chance because Trout was not running on the play,” Servais said. “We didn’t execute late in the game, pitching or defense. We let Pujols get too big of a lead and take third on us there.”
Reliever Deolis Guerra (2-1) got the victory by pitching two scoreless innings.
The Mariners built leads of 2-0 and 3-2 against LA starter Matt Shoemaker, who was making his first appearance at Safeco Field since getting hit in the head last Sept. 4 by a Kyle Seager line drive.
Tony Zych escaped a two-on threat in the seventh inning but began the eighth by hitting Cameron Maybin with a full-count slider.
Zych retired the next two hitters before the the Mariners summoned Diaz to face the heart of the Angels’ lineup, starting with Calhoun.
Maybin stole second base on Diaz’s second pitch before Calhoun golfed a 3-1 fastball – a 98-mph fastball – into the right-field seats.
“Eddie’s been our guy,” Servais said. “He’s been one of our best guys. Right, left. It doesn’t really matter. He made a mistake. He got a pitch in a spot that Calhoun could handle, and he didn’t miss it.”
Diaz had allowed just one run in 6 1/3 innings over six appearances since the Angels rocked him for three runs in two-thirds of an inning on April 9 in erasing a six-run deficit in the ninth inning.
The Mariners pulled even in the ninth inning against Angels closer Bud Norris after Jarrod Dyson pushed a one-out single through the left side.
A two-out walk to Gamel put runners on first and second for Robinson Cano, who grounded an RBI single to left.
The Mariners took a 3-2 lead when Danny Valencia turned on a 2-2 slider from Shoemaker with one out in the sixth inning. Valencia sent a 364-foot drive to left for his second homer on the year.
Mariners starter James Paxton labored through 105 pitches in 5 1/3 innings and was lucky to escape with only giving up two runs. The Angels left five runners in scoring position over the first five innings.
The Mariners opened the scoring by scoring twice in the third inning after Paxton escaped a couple of major jams.
Jean Segura drew a two-out walk, stole second and went to third on a throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Shoemaker then walked Gamel on four pitches.
Cano beat the shift with a an RBI single through the left side, before Nelson Cruz extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a hot grounder that third baseman Yunel Escobar couldn’t handle.
The Angels broke through in the fourth.
Andrelton Simmons led off with a single, but the Mariners had a chance for a double play when Danny Espinosa lined to Segura at short – but Segura threw wildly to first, which allowed Simmons to reach second.
Maybin followed with an RBI double to left, but Paxton held the lead by striking out the next two batters.
The Angels pulled even in the fifth inning after Trout’s one-out double. Pujols worked back from an 0-2 hole for a walk, and the fourth ball got past catcher Mike Zunino for a wild pitch that moved Trout to third.
That proved costly when Jefry Marte hit a sacrifice fly to center.
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners led 3-2 when Segura tried to advance from second to third on Cano’s one-out grounder to short in the seventh inning.
Simmons is a two-time Gold Glove recipient.
The play wasn’t close.
PLUS: Just-promoted Jean Machi, who had been the closer at Triple-A Tacoma, pitched two scoreless innings after replacing Diaz…Cano had three hits and two RBIs…Cruz extended his hitting streak to 11 games…Valencia’s homer was an encouraging sign. He’s again in line for regular duty at first base after the decision earlier Tuesday to option Dan Vogelbach to Tacoma.
MINUS: Diaz blowing a save is troubling. He grooved a pitch that Calhoun easily handled after falling behind 3-1 in the count…Segura’s errant throw led to an unearned run…Mike Zunino had a walk but struck out in his only two official at-bats. His slash line is down to .167/.247/.227.
STAT PACK: Trout’s double in the fifth inning extended his hitting streak to 15 games, which matches a career high.
QUOTABLE: Angels manager Mike Scioscia said: “We got the win on our terms.”
SHORT HOPS: Paxton allowed one earned run in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 1.50 ERA in his last seven starts at Safeco Field (eight earned runs in 48 innings)…left-handed hitters are 0 for 17 this season against Marc Rzepczynski…Trout is batting .356 over his last 20 games at Safeco Field…the game lasted 4 hours, 40 minutes.
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