Seattle’s season-high, five-game winning streak came to an end by way of a 3-0 loss (box score) to the Texas Rangers in a holiday afternoon game Monday at Safeco Field. The good news was that only 18,469 fans wasted a beautiful Labor Day watching sloppy baseball.
It was only the first inning, but the Mariners had a chance to jump on Texas starter Yovani Gallardo early. Seattle’s first three hitters reached base – on a pair of singles wrapped around a Kyle Seager walk – but two of them were caught stealing. The squandered opportunity turned out to be the best chance to get any kind of offense.
Starter Roenis Elias was sharp. For the first five innings, in fact, he was dominant. He allowed just two hits, and three baserunners, while striking out six. But he ran out of gas in the sixth, when he gave up a two-run, bases-loaded single to Adrian Beltre as the Rangers took a 2-0 lead.
The bullpen was shaky again, with LHP Rob Rasmussen’s three wild pitches in the seventh the breaking point. Rasmussen came one short of the major league record for wild pitches in an inning. Seattle allowed six hits and three runs, but the bullpen had three wild pitches and hit a batter.
The Mariners had seven hits, but that wasn’t necessarily the issue. Another baserunning gaffe cost Seattle in the fifth, when CF Brad Miller’s one-out triple went for naught because he was caught in a rundown on a ground ball to shortstop during the next at-bat. 3B Kyle Seager extended his hitting streak to 10 games, while rookie OF Shawn O’Malley added an eighth-inning single. Since getting promoted from Tacoma, he is 7 for 10 while collecting at least one hit in all four of his games.
“We’ve been playing good baseball. We’ll bounce back from this. Nobody’s pulled a curtain on us yet.” – manager Lloyd McClendon
The Mariners still have not named a Wednesday starter. It was supposed to be LHP Edgar Olmos’s turn in the rotation, but he was optioned to Triple-A before Monday’s game. LHP Vidal Nuno, who has thrown only nine pitches as a reliever this month, could be an option. Or Seattle may tap the pipeline to Tacoma, where the Triple-A season officially ended Monday . . . Seattle RF Nelson Cruz (strained quad) was not in the lineup Monday, marking the fourth game in a row he was on the bench . . . The Mariners recalled RHP Danny Farquhar before Monday’s game, adding a fresh arm to the bullpen . . . Gallardo is the only right-handed starter the Rangers plan to send to the mound during the four-game series. Texas has lefties Cole Hamels, Martin Perez and Derek Holland on tap for the next three days.
RHP Taijuan Walker (10-7, 4.51 ERA) is scheduled to be on the mound for his 28th start of the season Tuesday night. Walker already has thrown a career-high 159.2 innings – in the minors, he never threw more than 140 – and will probably have his pitch count monitored as the Mariners look for ways to rest the young phenom’s arm. Hamels (2-1, 3.89 ERA) will go for Texas. It will be his seventh start as a Ranger, three of them coming against the Mariners.
It seems like it’s all about next year now. Will they make many changes? They might not, with a number of .270 batting averages popping up in the lineup and Kuma back and pitching better. That would be a mistake in my opinion. There will definitely be a bullpen transfusion. But regarding the position players that are starters we may only see one or two changes. Guti and the new shortstop might be pencilled in as starters following August and September success. Just like LoMo last year. What will be most interesting will be whether anyone loses a starting job if they have a poor April and May. That would be a change from the old regime.