A glance at the dugout in the late innings offered a glimpse of the disappointment.
Several players and coaches stood at the rail with crossed arms and stoic faces, knowing the outcome was unlikely to change. Others sat with heads down, eyes locked on their feet, avoiding the possibility of seeing a score that was unlikely to change.
It was the posture of disgust and defeat.
When the final out was made in a lackluster 6-1 loss to the Dodgers that was more lopsided than the score, the Mariners had wasted possibly one of the last warm summer Sundays in Seattle with one of their least competitive performances in months.
Suboptimal starting pitching, more hitting failures with runners in scoring position and an opponent that was simply better produced a clunker in the series finale, punctuating a weekend of lost opportunities where the Mariners were swept in a three-game series at the worst possible time.
“Disappointing way to finish the homestand for sure,” manager Scott Servais said. “The Dodgers are really good. They played better than us. And when you face a good, talented team comes in here and they play and execute better than you. You’re gonna be on the bad side of it. That’s what happened this weekend.”
The Dodgers performed like a playoff team. The Mariners?
Fall is coming. Will they still be playing in those chillier days ahead?
“So, we are where we are,” Servais said. “We sit here and we’re in the same spot we were last night. Fortunately for us, other people in our division have struggled here this week, too.”
The dream of winning the American League West may have dissipated with the 2-4 homestand. With the Astros (84-66) salvaging a win in their series in Kansas City and the Rangers (82-67) getting swept in Cleveland, Houston picked up a game in the division race. The Astros hold a 1.5-game lead over the Rangers and a 21/2-game lead over the Mariners.
The Mariners sit one game back of the Rangers for the third American League wild-card spot. The two teams will meet in an upcoming weekend series in Arlington.
“We have 13 games to go,” Servais said. “I talked to our team last night after the game and I feel very strongly about it – we are going to play October baseball. It is not going to be easy to get there.”
Playing a three-game series vs. Oakland A’s (46-103), who are dueling it out with the Royals (48-102) for the worst record in baseball, should be slightly easier than playing the Dodgers. They are 9-1 vs. the A’s this season.
If the Mariners are planning to rectify this recent run of losing with a sweep in Oakland in the coming days, they will need to perform at better levels than they showed over the weekend.
It was the third time the Mariners have been swept in a three-game series this season and the second time at T-Mobile Park. On April 17-19, in the first weeks of the season, they were swept at home by the Brewers, scoring eight runs in all three losses.
The most recent sweep was back on June 2-4; they were handled in a three-game series at Globe Life Park by the Rangers, getting outscored 30-9.
“I’ve seen us go so good for so long, it’s in there,” Servais said. “We’re gonna play two good weeks of baseball to get into October and then anything can happen from there. I believe we’ve got it in us. It’s two weeks, it’s 13 games, we’ll be OK. We just got to get going back in the right direction and get the momentum rolling with us.”The Mariners got a forgettable start from Logan Gilbert in a situation where they needed more from the third-year pitcher. He pitched only five innings, giving up five runs – four in the first two innings – on seven hits with two walks and six strikeouts.
It was the antithesis of the outing he wanted to provide.
“We needed this one,” Gilbert said. “This was a really big game and we needed a better performance from me. It’s frustrating. Not much I can do now. Just try to clean it up. We’ve got very big games ahead of us. So it’s tough to just say, but try to move on and focus on the next one.”
A Dodgers lineup without Mookie Betts, Will Smith and Freddie Freeman and operating on minimal sleep after maximum celebration the night before having clinched the National League West, showed no weariness, grabbing a 4-0 lead in the first two innings off Gilbert and the Mariners.
Jason Heyward, who had three doubles Saturday night, continued his minor career rejuvenation with the Dodgers. He swatted his 15th homer of the season – a solo shot to right – for an early 1-0 lead.
After getting up 0-2 on Jason Heyward on two pitches, Gilbert struggled to put him away. Heyward pushed the count to 3-2 and took advantage of a split-finger fastball that hung up in the zone, pulling it over the wall in right field.
The Dodgers added three more runs in the top of the second. Amed Rosario smacked a one-out triple to the gap in right-center and trotted home when ex-Mariner Kolten Wong singled to left field on an 0-2 splitfinger. Wong, who was signed up by the Dodgers on a minor league contract after being designated for assignment and released by the Mariners, drove in a run in each of the last two games of the series.
While giving up an RBI single with a 0-2 count to the light-hitting Wong was galling, it wasn’t as costly as Gilbert’s very next pitch. A 93-mph, first-pitch fastball to Austin Barnes stayed on the inner half of the plate. The Dodgers backup catcher ambushed it, sending a line drive into Edgar’s Cantina for a two-run homer and a 4-0 lead.
With the Dodgers still trying to piece together a rotation because of injury and arrest, they went with a bullpen outing that featured a one-time Mariners prospect covering the bulk of the innings.
Lefty Ryan Yarbrough, who the Mariners selected in the fourth round of the 2014 draft out of Old Dominion and later traded to Tampa as part of a package of players for lefty Drew Smyly in 2017, covered 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on five hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.
The Mariners had a chance to answer Los Angeles in the bottom of the second when Yarbrough entered the game. They loaded the bases with one out.
Yarbrough, who relies on command and off-speed pitches, rarely throwing anything over 89 mph, struck out Josh Rojas swinging. J.P. Crawford salvaged the situation, singling to left field to score a run. But Julio Rodriguez’s hard one-hopper back up the middle was gloved by Yarbrough and flipped to first for the final out.
The one run was all the Mariners would muster.
Using a sweeping curveball that topped out at 72-mph and generated 11 swings and misses and minimal hard contact, Yarbrough crushed any sort of offensive momentum for the Mariners.
The Mariners were 2 for 10 with runners in scoring position and left 10 runners on base. In the series, they were 4 for 33 with runners in scoring position, producing five runs and stranding 30 runners on base.
“Now’s the time we’re gonna figure out what we’re made of,” Gilbert said, “And especially myself, I mean I can only focus on myself. I’ve got a couple of starts left – big games against good teams. So now’s the time. We’re gonna figure it out.”