Colorado’s Dustin Garneau ended the 24-inning scoreless streak by Mariners pitchers with a three-run home run in the seventh inning, leading the Rockies to a 4-2 win Friday night (box score) in front of 19,876 Safeco Field fans. Seattle (68-74) lost for only the third time in 10 games and is one defeat away from matching its 2014 total.
3B Kyle Seager put the Mariners back in the game with a two-run homer in the eighth, cutting the Rockies’ lead to 3-2, then came up again with a chance to be the hero in the ninth. With two outs, a full count, two runners on and Seattle trailing 4-2, Seager stepped up against Colorado closer John Axford and . . . swung and missed.
Starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed one runner to reach second base through the first six innings. He was pitching well enough to make one wonder whether the Mariners might throw shutouts in three consecutive games for the first time in club history. Garneau ended those thoughts with one swing. Iwakuma continued to struggle before manager Lloyd McClendon came with the hook after 97 pitches and five consecutive hits. Iwakuma’s line – 6.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER – looked worse than it was. McClendon probably should have had the bullpen going earlier, as Iwakuma’s seventh inning looked shaky from the get-go.
Give Seattle pitchers credit for keeping the ball in the park when Colorado 3B Nolan Arenado was at the plate; it marked only the fourth time in 12 games this month that the Rockies’ slugger has failed to hit a homer.
Seattle’s offense has done its share of damage against upper-echelon pitchers in recent weeks. Friday was a different story against the lower echelon. Colorado starter Chad Bettis (yeah, we’d never heard of him, either) held just one opponent scoreless all season, yet he rolled through with such dominance that he looked more like Jerome Bettis. Seattle had five hits, three off “the other” Bettis. Seager broke through with a two-run homer off the Colorado bullpen in the eighth.
“Seager’s a threat. Anything I can do to throw him off. I’d only thrown three or four
curveballs all year, so that was the time to do it.” – Axford, on striking out Seager with a full-count curve to end the game
McClendon confirmed before Friday’s game that LHP James Paxton will be his Sunday starter – rather, McClendon said it was “trending” in that direction . . . OF Franklin Gutierrez returned after missing six games with a pelvic condition. Gutierrez pinch-hit for C John Hicks in the seventh and struck out . . . Seager’s home run was his 24th of the season, one short of the career-high total he put up in 2014 . . . CF James Jones got his second start of the season in the leadoff spot. Jones was there because SS Ketel Marte had the night off . . .The Rockies were without SS Jose Reyes, who was nursing a sore Achilles tendon.
LHP Roenis Elias (4-8, 4.30 ERA) makes his 17th start of the season for the Mariners, and he’s hoping to earn his first win since June 19. He spent part of that span in Tacoma, so that says more about the state of Seattle’s rotation. He’ll face Colorado LHP Yohan Flande (3-2, 4.65 ERA) as the Mariners face a southpaw starter for the fourth time in six games this homestand.