As the wheels, fender and chrome come off the Mariners’ bandwagon, let’s take a moment to ponder how close they are to being in a much better place (although it could be argued, credibly, that they are actually in a better place, long-term, with the losses, because it reduces the temptation by management to make a run at contention this year. I believe any objective observer would have to agree that this team has some fundamental flaws that dictate they be aggressive at the trade deadline…as sellers).
At any rate, here are 10 agonzing losses that, with a different result on a few, would have put the Mariners right in the thick of the AL West race, instead of on the periphery at 24-28, seven games behind Texas.
1, April 7: Twins 6, Mariners 5. The first meltdown by Brandon Morrow, in the second game of the year. Protecting a 5-3 lead in the ninth, Morrow gets two quick outs. But then he walks the bases loaded and is replaced by Miguel Batista. Denard Span hit a high chopper for an infield single that brought in one run, and Alexi Casilla ended it with a two-run single.
2, April 28: White Sox 2, Mariners 1. Chris Jakubauskus gives up just two hits in a complete game, but the Mariners get only four hits off Bartolo Colon and company..
3, May 2: A’s 3, Mariners 2. Jarrod Washburn gives up one run in seven innings, and hands a 2-1 lead to the bullpen, but Oakland scores one in the eighth and one in the ninth (off David Aardsma) when Gregorio Petit runs through a stop sign and beats Ichiro’s throw to the plate.
4, May 5: Rangers 7, Mariners 2 (10 innings). Erik Bedard gives up one run over seven, but the M’s manage just two hits in the game (one in eight innings off starter Vicente Padilla), and Denny Stark gives up six runs with two outs in the 10th after Shawn Kelly went down with an injury.
5, May 13: Rangers 6, Mariners 5 (11 innings). After the Mariners scored in the top of the 11th, Brandon Morrow allows a two-run double by Hank Blalock for a walk-off loss.
6, May 14: Rangers 3, Mariners 2. For the second game in a row, Morrow can’t hold a lead, this time a 2-0 margin. Blalock leads off the ninth with a homer, and then Chris Davis hits a two-run walk-off. So much for seven brilliant shutout innings by Felix Hernandez.
7, May 23: Giants 5, Mariners 1. Mariners lead 1-0 on the strength of six scoreless innings by Garrett Olson, but the Giants erupt for five in the eighth off overworked Mark Lowe.
8, May 26: A’s 4, Mariners 3. Washburn works six scoreless innings, and hands over a 3-0 lead, but the A’s score four in the seventh off Batista and Lowe.
9, May 31: Angels 8, Mariners 7. M’s have an 8-1 lead in the sixth but let it slip away. Aardsma, working his fourth straight game, gives up three in the ninth for the walk-off.
10, June 1: Orioles 1, Mariners 0. Mariners get Ichiro to third with no outs in the first and can’t get him home, even with the Orioles playing the infield back and conceding the run. They waste yet another Washburn gem — one run over seven innings. The M’s managed just two hits and the last 20 batters are retired in order.