ARLINGTON, Texas – The versions of the adage come in different forms depending on the manager at the time.
Eric Wedge liked to say, “Do you know how hard it is to win one game?”
Lloyd McClendon would growl: “Those guys over there drive Mercedes too.”
And Scott Servais often reminds you, “These are the best players in the world.”
Really, it comes down to this: no game is a guaranteed victory in baseball regardless of your opponent.
Yes, the Mariners have the easiest remaining schedule in baseball based on opponent’s record and winning percentage. It’s an advantage to be sure.
But these last two days in Texas have shown that if they don’t play to the levels of execution that have carried them into a projected wild card spot, that easy schedule will become very difficult.
The Mariners didn’t play poorly in a Sunday’s 5-3 loss to the Rangers. But they simply didn’t hit enough or pitch well enough to beat a team they’ve dominated for most of the 2022 season.
“Not how we wanted this series to end up,” Servais said. “You’ve got to play good baseball, you’ve got to make all the plays defensively. We got a couple breaks from them today. You’ve got to make those plays in tight games. They beat us. They out-executed us, they out-hit us, certainly in today’s game and they out-pitched us.”
The back-to-back losses at Globe Life Field meant that the Mariners lost their first series to a team other than the Astros since mid-June.
Marines starter Logan Gilbert bounced back with a better outing, pitching six innings and allowing three runs on five hits with four walks and five strikeouts.
Obviously, he’s had more dominant outings earlier in the season and the walks are never ideal, but facing a team that wasn’t the Yankees or Astros, who he faced two times each in his last four starts, Gilbert gave the Mariners a “quality start.”
He exited with the game tied at 3-3.
But the bullpen couldn’t get keep the Rangers scoreless
Matt Brash gave up a two-out double to Corey Seager to start the problems. With Adolis Garcia at the plate, Brash pulled a 98-mph fastball into the left-handers’ batter’s box that went for a wild pitch allowing Seager to advance to third and then jog home on Adolis Garcia’s hard single to center to give the Rangers a 4-3 lead.
With no lefty in the bullpen, yet, manager Scott Servais went to right-hander Erik Swanson to face left-swinging Nathaniel Lowe. Swanson’s splitfinger is an effective pitch against left-handed hitters. After Garcia stole second base to move into scoring position on the first pitch, Lowe took advantage of an 0-1 fastball in the middle of the plate, hitting a double into the left field corner to score Garcia to make it 5-3.
Seattle starts a three-game series at the Los Angeles Angels on Monday, which will feature a marquee pitching matchup between Luis Castillo and Shohei Ohtani.
Ohtani started against the Mariners once this season on June 16, throwing six scoreless innings on three hits, two walks and six strikeouts.
Castillo shut down the Yankees in his first two Mariners starts, allowing three runs on eight hits, five walks and 15 strikeouts over 14 2/3 innings.
Seattle won both of Castillo’s starts against New York.
The Mariners are 5-7 against the Angels this season.
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