The Mariners’ offensive dive into the abyss reached rivet-popping depths with another dismal performance Saturday night, shut out for the second game in a row by the Texas Rangers, this time 5-0. In the past five games, the Mariners scored five runs, and have gone 19 innings without a run. But for the first time in four games, they didn’t hit double digits in strikeouts, whiffing only eight times.
Over those five games, the Mariners have hit .199 and struck out 61 times in 171 at-bats. After hitting into two double plays Saturday, the Mariners lead the American League with 20.
The Mariners welcomed rookie pitcher Brandon Maurer into the Lack of Support Club, giving him no help after he held the potent Texas lineup to two hits and three walks in 6.2 innings. Unfortunately for him, both were home runs, one to A.J. Pierzynski in the fourth and the other to David Murphy in the seventh.
As if the Rangers needed any help, the Pierzynski shot to straightaway center was fan-aided. Franklin Gutierrez made a leap and reached over the wall, positioned his glove for a catch, only to have a fan reach out and beat him to it. Because the ball was beyond the field of play, it was fair game.
The potential for controversy faded in the eighth when when the Rangers scored three runs without benefit of a hard hit — but much Mariner comedy.
No. 9 hitter Leonys Martin began with a bunted bloop single over the head of reliever Charlie Furbush. Yoervis Medina replaced Furbush and wild-pitched Martin to second and walked Ian Kinsler. Then catcher Jesus Montero completely whiffed on an inside fastball. The passed ball hit the backstop wall on the fly and caromed down the first base line, both runners advancing.
Lance Berkman, facing a drawn-in infield pulled heavily to the right, sent a soft bounder past second baseman for a single that scored two runs. After an infield out, Pierzynski singled in the final run.
After the game, manager Eric Wedge declined to administer the verbal lash.
“In a tough ballpark against a tough club, Brandon threw a great game,” he said. “I was really proud of him.
“We hit some balls hard tonight. We’re in one of the zones where everything we hit is right at ’em. When we come out of it, we’ll come out of it big.”
The start, however, is beginning to feel oppressive. At 7-12, the Mariners ended the game with no hitter in the lineup with an average better than .255.
As if more insult needed to be added, the Mariners knocked out rookie starter Nick Tapesch with an injury, only to have 39-year-old ex-Mariner Derek Lowe come in without much prep and throw four shutout innings.
In the second inning, Montero lined a hard single off Tepesch’s pitching wrist, which tore off a bit of flesh and forced him from the game.
Lowe, in his 18th major league season, was part of one of the most lopsided trade flops in Seattle history, going with catcher Jason Varitek in 1997 to Boston for reliever Heathcliff Slocumb.
No less than 16 years later, the trade still haunts the Mariners. Lowe needed only 31 pitches and was credited with the win.