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Seattle Mariners

Mariners can’t find clutch hit late, lose to Marlins in 10 innings

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

MIAMI – Victor Robles stood on third base, waiting for any chance to race home to put the Mariners ahead in the eighth inning.

Ryan Bliss was on first base, having just beat out a swinging bunt for his third hit of the game. He was ready to score on a ball hit into the gap to provide an insurance run to beat the Marlins.

With no outs, the Mariners just needed to put a fly ball into the outfield for a sacrifice fly to take the lead. A base hit? Well, that would make everything easier and possibly provide a lead and more.

It wasn’t being greedy or overly optimistic to expect to score more than just one run. The M’s had the top of their lineup coming to the plate.

What transpired next sent the Mariners to defeat.

J.P. Crawford: strikeout swinging.

Dylan Moore: strikeout looking.

Julio Rodriguez: strikeout looking.

Inning over, game over.

The actual outcome of the Marlins’ 3-2 victory was decided in the bottom of the 10th after the Mariners went scoreless in the top of the inning, stranding automatic runner Tyler Locklear with three flyouts.

In front of a small Friday night crowd of 11,794 at LoanDepot Park, Tim Anderson swung at the first pitch of the inning – a 93-mph fastball from Austin Voth – sending a line drive into left field to score automatic runner Jake Burger from second.

It was the Marlins’ MLB-leading eighth walkoff win this season, accounting for more than half of their 15 wins at home. Their last three victories at home have been walkoffs.

“The Marlins have a lot of late-inning magic here,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “It’s certainly disappointing tonight.”

The Mariners, meanwhile, had no eighth-inning magic, failing to execute against a bad team going nowhere slowly.

“We had a really good chance in the eighth inning with first and third nobody out and we weren’t able to convert,” Servais said. “That was our chance to get a lead with our bullpen lined up. You’ve got to execute in those spots and we weren’t able to get it done tonight.”

Marlins lefty Andrew Nardi, who started the eighth inning and allowed the two runners, was able to regroup. He got some help when his first-pitch fastball to Crawford was called a strike by home-plate umpire Bill Miller. An irritated Crawford then waved at a pair of sliders well out of the strike zone. A three-pitch, noncompetitive at-bat for Crawford was anything but typical.

Moore also struck out on three pitches from Nardi. He fouled off a pair of sliders in the strike zone and then watched a fastball inside and off the plate get called a strike by Miller.

Marlins manager Skip Schumacher brought in right-hander Calvin Faucher to face Rodriguez. A fouled off 97-mph sinker on the first pitch put Rodriguez behind in the count. He then waved at back-to-back cutters that darted away and out of the zone from Faucher for a strikeout.

Nine pitches, three outs and two stranded base runners.

“They are some of our better hitters,” Servais said. “They made pitches and we chased a couple. Certainly guys were wanting to get it done, maybe a little bit too much instead of letting the game come to them. We just have to be better in those spots. That’s how you win games late. And we’re usually pretty good at that – letting the game come to us there. But we got a little bit of ahead of ourselves tonight and we paid the price.”

The Mariners got another quality start from George Kirby. He pitched seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits with no walks and five strikeouts. It was the fifth consecutive start in which he held an opponent to two runs or fewer. During a combined 27 innings pitched over that span, he allowed six earned runs for a 2.00 ERA with 32 strikeouts and three walks.

The two runs came on back-to-back, first-pitch homers in the sixth inning. With two outs and Seattle leading 2-0, Bryan De La Cruz smacked an elevated 96-mph fastball over the middle of the plate.

Rodriguez tracked the deep fly to center and seemed ready to add to his collection of spectacular catches. But he hit the wall early on his leaping attempt, jarring him enough that he couldn’t get his glove up in time.

“He does so damn well out there,” Kirby said of Rodriguez. “It wasn’t a great pitch and (De La Cruz) took advantage of it. That would have been awesome if he came up with another one.”

Rodriguez had no chance to make a play on Kirby’s next pitch. The 96-mph fastball to Josh Bell was crushed deep into right-center to tie the game.

“I’ve just really got to bear down, make my pitches and just kind of not worry about strikeouts,” Kirby said. “You have to be fine with your pitches to get an early ground ball or flyout.”

The Mariners were held scoreless over the final eight innings and were 2 for 9 with runners in scoring position.

“Situational hitting late in the game ends up being the story of the game,” Servais said. “It happens. You’ve got to score more than two runs to win on the road. We know that. We’ve gotta let this one go. This one stings a little bit. Everyone in the clubhouse knows we should’ve won the ballgame tonight, but you’ve got to execute.”