The Mariners botched a shot at their first three-game sweep of Texas in Arlington since Sept. 24-26, 2001 and a chance to win three in a row this season for the first time since May 1-4 when, leading 3-1 in the seventh, they allowed the Rangers to manufacture four runs en route to a 5-4 victory.
Had it not been for former Mariner Adrian Beltre, the Mariners might have pulled this one out. But Beltre ripped two home runs off Seattle starter and loser Hisashi Iwakuma (7-4, 2.60 ERA). He hit his 15th of the season in the first inning for a 1-0 lead, and his 16th in the seventh that sliced the lead to 3-2.
The Mariners fell to 37-48, the loss negating another superb performance from 41-year-old Raul Ibanez, who went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, including his 21st home run, a two-run shot in the seventh inning. Ibanez is eight home runs shy of matching Ted Williams’ 1960 record for most home runs by a player 41 years old.
That blow staked Iwakuma to a 3-1 lead, but he couldn’t hold it, falling apart along with the Seattle bullpen.
The Mariners tied it in the sixth when, after Kyle Seager opened with a single and Justin Smoak followed with a single, Seager scored on Ian Kinsler’s error at second base.
Ibanez unloaded off reliever Neal Cotts following Nick Franklin’s infield single. The Mariners loaded the bases with one out after Ibanez’s blast, but again couldn’t produce in the clutch, Smoak striking out and Henry Blanco lining out to center.
In the seventh, after Iwakuma walked A.J. Pierzynski and Lance Berkman singled, manager Eric Wedge pulled Iwakuma in favor of Charlie Furbush.
Iwakuma exited having allowed four earned runs on five hits in 6.0 innings with two strikeouts and one walk. After starting the season 7-1, 1.79 ERA, Iwakuma hasn’t won since June 10.
Furbush couldn’t douse the fire. He allowed a single to Mitch Moreland, scoring Pierzynski, and a sacrifice fly to Elvis Andrus that scored Engel Beltre to make it 4-3. Wedge pulled Furbush and brought in Charlie Farquhar, who promptly allowed an RBI single to Kinsler to give Texas a 5-3 lead.
Ibanez’s RBI single in the eighth, scoring Brad Miller, pulled he Mariners to 5-4, but they went relatively meekly in the ninth, Smoak taking a called third strike to end the game.
The Mariners had 14 hits, including three by Seager and two by Franklin, but left on base and finished 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position.
The Mariners begin a three-game series against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ballpark Friday. Aaron Harang (3-7, 5.08 ERA) will pitch for Seattle against RHP Mike Leake (7-3, 2.52). Harang is coming off an eight-inning no-decision against the Cubs in which he gave up five hits and three runs.
Following the Cincinnati series, Seattle’s first on the Ohio River since 2002, the Mariners return to Safeco Field for seven games — four against the Boston Red Sox, three against the Los Angeles Angels.
NOTES: The Mariners signed Greifer Andrade, a 16-year-old outfielder from Venezuela, according to MLB.com. Andrade is ranked No. 20 on MLB.com’s Top International Prospects list . . . Jesus Montero, sidelined the past five weeks following surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee, will return to action Friday as a DH in an Arizona Rookie League game . . . Rosters for the American League All-Star Game will be announced Saturday. Seattle has three candidates: starting pitchers Felix Hernandez and Hisashi Iwakuma and reliever Oliver Perez. The Mariners have not had a position player selected to the ASG since 2010 (Ichiro) . . . Catcher Kelly Shoppach, released last week, signed a minor league deal with the Washington Nationals.
If the M’s knew what they were doing, they could probably trade for some prospect or draft pick for Ibanez, who could help a contending team. But, these are the M’s, so they will undoubtedly hang on to Ibanez and have a couple of Ibanez bobble-head or tee-shirt nights to sell a few thousand extra tickets, instead of doing what is best for the future of the team.
The bullpen again disappoints, their youth mirroring their position player counterparts. It desperately needs a veteran presence and its amazing that Jack Z didn’t address this in the offseason. But I don’t want to see some Larry Anderson type trade happen, especially for a team that won’t make the playoffs or even a winning season, just to stabilize the club. George Sherrill was just released by the Royals. Maybe he’d be worth an audition?
Just too many young players on the big club at the same time. Their youth and inexperience shows and if the club isn’t careful calling them up so early might have the same detrimental effect that the same action had on Brandon Morrow. If Lou was here he’d going thru two packs a day and get ejected once a week.