Update 4:20 p.m.: Naturally, it took exactly three batters today for this streak to be broken in today’s game on a two-run homer by Franklin Gutierrez.
On May 1 at Safeco Field, in the third inning of a game with Texas, Jose Lopez and Milton Bradley (remember him?) delivered back-to-back RBI singles off Matt Harrison, cutting the Rangers lead to 3-2 in an eventual 6-3 Mariner loss.
And that, folks, marked the last time the Mariners have scored in the first three innings of a ballgame.
Alert reader Kevin Jones pointed out that trend, which I’m sure we all realized was happening on some level, but perhaps not to this extent: 10 straight games now in which the Mariners have gone scoreless through three innings. In other words, the first trip through the batting order has been entirely fruitless. In many cases, their scoreless stretch lasted far beyond the third, but the point is that the Mariners never jump on a team early and take the pressure off a) their starting pitchers and b) their hitters. They went 2-8 in those games.
The Seattle pitchers are doing their part — in six of those 10 games, M’s starters also held the opposing team scoreless. But it sure would help to actually jump on a team. That’s been a season-long problem, not just the past 10 games. In only six games this year have the Mariners held a lead after three innings — and they are 5-1 in those games. They have been held scoreless through the first three innings in 21 of their 34 games.
Granted, the Mariners don’t score many runs in any inning — 114 in 34 games (3.35 per game). Only Houston (104 in 34 games) has scored fewer in the major leagues. But it’s amazing how often they go down meekly in the early innings of ballgames (including the four times they’ve been shut out completely). While their pitching has been admirable, for the most part, it’s extremely tough going out every game knowing that each run you give up can be fatal.
Here’s the rundown on their last 10 games:
May 2 vs. Texas: 0-0 after three (M’s score in fourth). Final: Rangers 3, Mariners 1, 11 innings.
May 4 vs. Tampa Bay: M’s trail 1-0 after three (M’s scoreless through four). Final: Rays 5, Mariners 2.
May 5 vs. Tampa Bay: 0-0 after three (M’s score in fourth). Final: Rays 8, Mariners 3.
May 6 vs. Tampa Bay: M’s trail 2-0 after three (M’s shut out). Final: Rays 8, Mariners 0.
May 7 vs. Los Angeles of Anaheim: M’s trail 4-0 after three (M’s shut out). Final: Angels 8, Mariners 0.
May 8 vs. L.A. of Anaheim: 0-0 after three (M’s scoreless through four). Final: Angels 4, Mariners 3.
May 9 vs. L.A. of Anaheim: 0-0 after three (M’s score in fourth). Final: Mariners 8, Angels 1.
May 11 at Baltimore: 0-0 after three (M’s scoreless through four). Final: Mariners 5, Orioles 1.
May 12 at Baltimore: M’s trail 2-0 after three (M’s scoreless through seven). Final: Orioles 5, Mariners 2.
May 13 at Baltimore: 0-0 after three (M’s scoreless through four). Final: Orioles 6, Mariners 5.