In some ways, it was the same old same old: Mariner starter gets rocked, puts team in big hole they can’t climb out of. We’ve seen it repeatedly with the bottom three of the Seattle rotation, a trend that is threatening to bring the season down.
The difference this time is that Joe Saunders was the pitcher getting rocked at Safeco. One of the things they could count on was Saunders pitching well at home, but even that flew out the window as the Mariners lost their seventh in a row and dropped below the Angels into fourth place. Saunders was pretty down after the game, realizing that he needed to be better on a night in which the Mariners banged out 14 hits and scored in each of the first three innings.
“When the team comes out and scores runs like that, you want to put zeroes on the board and get us right back in the dugout,’’ Saunders said. “This one’s on me. It’s my fault.’’
“This game can be frustrating, to say the least, at times. You just have to keep your head up. We’re a way better team than what the results have been. It’s freakin’ frustrating. I know I can do better, especially on the road this year. It’s time for us to turn it around and throw some W’s up there.”
The quirkiest part of this game occurred on Jesus Sucre’s first major-league at-bat. The second inning had started promisingly, with singles by Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak.
Sucre grounded to first baseman Mitch Moreland, who fired to second for the force. Meanwhile, Texas pitcher Justin Grimm, racing over to cover, converged with Moreland. Replays showed that while Moreland was stretching for the relay, Grimm actually grabbed the return throw while he was well off the bag.
But first-place umpire Jeff Nelson called Sucre out, and Wedge lost the ensuing argument. Wedge said it appeared from the dugout that Moreland had caught the ball, and he was arguing he had pulled his foot (which he had, not that it mattered). It wasn’t until later, when the Mariners were able to see the replay, Wedge realized Grimm caught the ball. It was a brutal call by Nelson and the latest argument for replay in baseball.
“It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time,’’ he said. “Everyone was just focused on the bag. I thought he came off the bag. So that’s what I was out arguing. I didn’t come to find out later with the replay he didn’t even catch the ball. We’re half blocked off out there and there’s a bunch of things going on, so I was out there arguing for that. But after the fact, obviously we found out it was a different story.”
Did that change the outcome of the game? Who knows? But instead of first and third, one out, the M’s had a runner on third, two outs. Brendan Ryan followed with a double that scored Ibanez, but Michael Saunders struck out.
Ryan and Saunders are headed in opposite directions. Ryan had two doubles tonight and has hit safely in eight of his last nine games, going 13-for-32 (.406). That has raised his average to .202, his first time over the Mendoza Line since April 13. But Saunders went 0-for-4 and is hitting .125 (5-for-40) with 16 strikeouts since the start of the last road trip.