Here’s the thing about stretches of bad baseball. You can change the venue. You can change the opponent. You can even change the pregame routine, walk-up songs, the uniforms or any superstition that might seem relevant.
But the outcome will only change two ways — execute and perform better or the team you are playing somehow finds a way to play worse.
The belief, or at least the hope, that a Monday free without a game, particularly a game lost, and the energy of the final homestand of the 2022 season might reinvigorate the Mariners’ level of performance was not realized on Tuesday night at T-Mobile Park.
Instead, the largely lackluster showing on the previous road trip, which included a disappointing 3-7 record and inconsistencies in every facet of the game followed them home.
After scoring 12 runs in a loss on Sunday, the Mariners were held scoreless for the 12th time this season. They were limited to just five hits — all singles — by a collection of Rangers relievers making a bullpen start in a frustrating 5-0 loss to Texas.
Meanwhile, the Mariners pitching staff had no answer for Rangers rookie third baseman Josh Jung, a top prospect who has battled injuries much of the season. Jung drove in all five of Texas’ runs, including a backbreaking three-run homer off Diego Castillo in the eighth inning to remove any hope of a Mariners comeback victory.
Even with the loss, the Mariners (83-70) still managed to trim their magic number for a postseason berth down to five games by no actions of their own. The Orioles last-ditch attempt at rally, which included getting the tying run to the plate in the top of the ninth inning, fell short at Fenway Park. Baltimore lost 13-9 to the Red Sox, allowing the Mariners to remain 3.5 games ahead for the third wild card spot.
The Mariners aren’t exactly charging into their first postseason appearance since 2001 despite it being set up for them to not only clinch it early, but also make a run at the first wild card spot, which would mean a three-game series at T-Mobile Park. Their final 20 games of the season came against teams with losing records — the Angels, A’s, Rangers and Tigers. Now 11 games into that stretch, they have a 3-8 record.
The Blue Jays (87-68) also lost and remain three games up on Seattle for the first wild card spot. The Rays (85-69) occupy the second wild card spot, moving to 2.5 games behind Toronto and a 1.5 games ahead of the Mariners.
Even with the return of Eugenio Suarez to the lineup after a stint on the injured list with a broken finger, the Mariners offense didn’t really threaten to score despite getting nine runners on base, aided by five walks from Rangers pitchers. Seattle went 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position.
The reliever combination of starter Jesus Tinoco, a closer at Triple-A this season, Tony Miller, Denis Santana, Matt Moore, Jonathan Hernandez and Jose LeClerc stymied Seattle hitters.
Making his 31st start of the season Robbie Ray gave the Mariners an outing good enough for a victory. He pitched into the sixth inning, giving up two runs on six hits with two walks and eight strikeouts.
His first run allowed came in the second inning when Jung crushed a 3-2 fastball up in the strike zone. The mammoth blast landed in the upperdeck of left field for a 1-0 lead.
Despite his best efforts, Ray couldn’t quite finish a taxing sixth inning that saw him allow a run while throwing 33 pitches with the Rangers fouling off 15 of them to drive that pitch count up.
A leadoff single from Marcus Semien started his problems. After striking out Corey Seager, Ray gave up single to Nathaniel Lowe that put runners on the corners with one out. Ray came back to get Adolis Garcia to pop out to shallow right field in an 11-pitch battle, not allowing Semien to tag up and score.
But that third out never came. Jung got him again with a bloop single to right field that allowed Semien to trot home. Ray then walked Sam Huff to load the bases that ended his outing.
Penn Murfee entered and immediately ended the inning, retiring Leody Taveras with a ground out to second.
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