OAKLAND – Given their location, their division and travel schedule, the flight home from the Bay Area is always the shortest one the Mariners will make in a season. So under normal circumstances, it should be the most enjoyable trip in a season.
But after Sunday, that 2 1/2 hours should feel like a cross-country trek as they collectively dwell on what transpired over the past seven days they’ve been away from Seattle. To sum it up quickly: Six games, six losses and only a handful of times where it seemed like they had a chance at victory.
Perhaps a little longer flight would allow the entirety of all that went wrong on this trip and what was going wrong before it to sink in.
A lackluster 7-1 loss to the A’s that featured a meek effort at the plate against middling lefty Brett Anderson, a costly controversial call, a poor outing from one of their best relievers and their 59th error of the season culminated the winless road trip.
“It was a bad road trip,” manager Scott Servais said flatly. “It was different ways. Some games we didn’t pitch that well, some games we didn’t play defense that well and some games we didn’t hit. When that happens and you can’t put a full game together, you are going to have a tough road trip. And that’s what we experienced.”
Given the reactionary, social media-based world of today, the immediate response would be to lament how awful such an occurrence is for a team. But this isn’t new to Mariners’ history. This was the 10th time that a Mariners team went winless on a road trip of six games or more. The most recent came in July 26-August 1, 2010 when they went 0-7 on a trip to Chicago and Minnesota.
Few will remember, but the 2008 Mariners, a team that lost 101 games, went winless on an 11-game road trip. And the 2011 team that lost 17 games in a row, managed to avoid such a dubious honor by winning the finale of a nine-game road trip to break the streak. That team lost 95 games in the season.
Is this team 101-loss or 95-loss bad? Probably not. The 13-2 start and multiple series against some very bad teams could save them from that distinction. The Mariners only have the fifth worst record in the American League and ninth worst in all of baseball. But nothing that Seattle has shown from the last few weeks says that any sustained level of success or good play is coming.
“We have to play good baseball and we haven’t done that,” Servais said.
He wasn’t around to witness the game fall apart in the seventh inning in person after being ejected for the first time this season.
After being shutdown and shutout for much of the game by Anderson, the Mariners cut into a 3-0 lead in the top of the seventh with Jay Bruce’s solo homer to right-center. Bruce’s 13th homer of the season was his third hit of the game off of Anderson. Tom Murphy followed with a single, which forced Anderson out of the game. While the Mariners didn’t get another run in the inning, the hope was that they could get two more runs in their final two innings, particularly with A’s closer Blake Treinen likely unavailable due to usage.
But they couldn’t maintain that two-run deficit in the bottom of the seventh and the Mariners felt a missed call at second base on a potential double play was the culprit.
Seattle starter Mike Leake issued a leadoff walk to Mark Canha to start the inning and then got Jurickson Profar to hit a groundball to first. Edwin Encarnacion tried to start a 3-6-3 double play, but the play never happened. With Canha running on the infield grass and not the baseline, Encarnacion adjusted his throw to J.P. Crawford, who was covering at second base. Crawford caught the throw, but Canha slid into him well away from the bag with his leg out and up in the air. The contact didn’t allow Crawford to make a throw to first base to complete the double play.
Leake immediately screamed at second base umpire Bill Welke about the play, while Crawford looked around for a call to be made. Manager Scott Servais came on to the field to protest that Canha had violated the new slide rule put into place two years ago.
“For me, I don’t think he clearly went at the bag,” Servais said. “The slide rule was put in place to protect the middle infielders. Clearly, J.P. got taken out on the play and couldn’t finish the play.”
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