There was no refinement for middle relief during the teamwide workout prior to Mondays Mariners game against the Tigers.
The wobbling Mariners practiced cutoff throws, covering first base, situational signals. But nothing that helped the middle relievers who were pummeled hours later.
The Mariners lost 8-3 to Detroit in a mostly vacated and cool Safeco Field Monday night. Relievers Josh Lueke and Chris Ray spent the seventh inning assuring that, leaving starter Jason Vargas in the lurch once again.
The top of the second was extensive for Vargas. Three of the 34 pitches he made in the inning were contacted for singles. He teetered, but shuffled off after allowing just a run. His pitch count zoomed to 46 by the end of the first two innings. A Milton Bradley two-run homer supplied Vargas a 2-1 lead an inning later.
Detroit squared the game at two in the sixth inning when Bradley had a liner into the left field corner from Brennan Boesch squirt through. That allowed lumbering Miguel Cabrera to chug home from first base. Vargas eventually won a 12-pitch at-bat with Alex Avila to end the inning.
“It felt like 25,” Vargas said. “That could have been a turning point for them. It was something that I felt like that hitter it didnt to go any further than that.”
That capped Vargas night at 114 pitches. Vargas threw six innings, allowed two earned runs, walked two and struck out four. Hes allowed two runs or less in three of his four outings, yet his record is stagnant at 0-1. The bullpen has been of little help to him. The Seattle bats have been less.
“Its something thats out of our control,” Vargas said of the pitchers assessing the hitting woes. “For us to try to sit here and understand what the hitters are going through, its just not possible. They cant understand it when were not doing well, were not feeling good and not throwing strikes and getting hit.”
Relief was a misnomer for the pitchers that followed Vargas in the seventh. Lueke stumbled through ? of an inning and allowed four earned runs, displaying control and velocity problems. Throwing only around 92 mph, well below his 96 or 97 displayed last season, Lueke walked a batter and threw a wild pitch in addition to three hits allowed.
Ray relieved him and ramped up the lack of execution. Ray walked two, Boesch intentionally to load the bases, before Jhonny Peralta smashed a triple over the head of Ryan Langerhans in center field. Three runs scored. The lead swelled to 8-2.
“Seventh inning got ugly,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “Lueke and Ray just didnt have it today.”
Bradley and Justin Smoak homered for the Mariners. Each hit his second. Bradleys soared to right center, Smoaks was a rocket to left center in the eighth inning.
“It happened to get out,” Smoak said. “Still don’t feel great up at the plate. Would like to feel a lot better.”
The only other activity of note Monday was the foul ball from Ryan Raburn that hit the Safeco Field roof. Raburn’s second-inning loft hit one the roof supports. It bounced back down to the field and dropped between Chone Figgins and Miguel Olivo. Had either caught it, Raburn would have been out. That was the first ball to hit the roof in Safeco history.
Few fans saw any of it thanks to another ignominious attendance number Monday night, just 12,774. That was just north of the disappointment of 12,407 which set an all-time low at Safeco last Wednesday. But that was a day game.
Doug Fister (0-3, 3.86 ERA) will face Phil Coke (1-2, 2.25 ERA) Tuesday night at 7:10 at Safeco for the 5-12 Mariners. Plenty of goods seats still available.