After starting a 10-day, 10-game road trip with a three-game sweep of Detroit and a dramatic, extra-inning win at Toronto, the Mariners (11-14) have squandered four in a row, the latest a 3-1 snoozer Tuesday to Tampa Bay at Tropicana Field in a game in which Seattle out-hit the AL East leaders 9-3 but couldn’t push more than one run across.
The Mariners tumbled into third place in the AL West (Oakland defeated the Red Sox 5-1), but didn’t lose any ground to Texas, which lost to Toronto, 8-7. The Mariners remain 6.5 games back in the division race.
The Mariners scored just five runs over their past four games, all on solo home runs. The Mariners had numerous base runners but went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded eight.
To start the trip, the Mariners went 15-for-46 (.326) with men in scoring position. They are now 0-for-their-last-30. A key contributor: SS Brendan Ryan extended his futility streak to zero hits in his past 23 at-bats.
For the season, the Mariners are hitting .209 with runners in scoring position (45-for-215).
“We’ve got to have more quality in individual at-bats,” said manager Eric Wedge diplomatically.
The Mariners wasted some nice efforts. Starter Hector Noesi allowed three earned runs on three hits covering 5.2 innings, at one point retiring eight in a row. But he came away with his third loss against one win.
Tampa’s Matt Moore (1-1) picked up his first win by allowing one earned run on seven hits over 5.0 innings, while fanning seven. In all, the Mariners whiffed 12 times and have fanned 39 times in the past four games.
Jesus Montero, getting the start at catcher with Miguel Olivo consigned to the 15-day disabled list (right groin pull), went 4-for-4 (joining Ichiro and Justin Smoak in the 2012 four-hit club) but didn’t come close to scoring a run.
Ichiro banged two more hits (2-for-4), passing Hall of Famer Lloyd Waner for 59th place on the all-time hits list (2,460). He didn’t come close to scoring, either.
As a further illustration of Seattle’s recent batting woes, in the ninth inning Wedge had newly reinstated Mike Carp pinch hit for Ryan. Carp was coming off a .137 BA rehab assignment at AAA Tacoma. Batting for Ryan, hitting .131, he whiffed to end the game.
The Rays jumped on Noesi early, scoring twice in the bottom of the first. Ben Zobrist walked on a full count and Matt Joyce tripled to center, scoring Zobrist. Joyce added the Rays’ second run when Scott hit a sac fly to left fielder Casper Wells, playing in place of Chone Figgins, who sat following his 0-for-6 effort Monday.
Michael Saunders, who dropped down an ill-advised bunt with two runners on and no one out Monday, drawing a rebuke from Wedge, led off the third with a solo home run, but Joyce retaliated with a homer off Noesi.
With his hits, Ichiro is at 2,460 for his major league career. He surpassed Waner (2,459) for 105th place on the all-time list and tied Hall of Famer Ozzie Smith for 104th place.
Wednesday, Seattle will start RHP Blake Beaven (1-2, 3.60) while Tampa Bay will counter with undefeated James Shields (4-0, 3.31).