Another road game, another crushing defeat for the Mariners. They’ve lost seven in a row away from home, and four of those have been walk-offs, including this one. They’ve lost 10 of 12 overall, and the season is slipping away rapidly, if it’s not already lost.
They had this one in their back pocket, too, after Jason Bay’s homer in the ninth gave them a 2-1 lead. But Tom Wilhelmsen looked out of sorts from the beginning, walking Yasmani Grandal on four pitches to start the ninth. Then Jedd Gyorko singled, notable for being the first hit by a right-hander off Wilhelmsen all season. They had been 0-for-33.
The killer in the inning was a passed ball by Kelly Shoppach that moved runners to second and third, necessitating an intentional walk to load the bases. A sac fly brought in the tying run and put the winning run on third with one out. Wilhelmsen did a good job getting out of the inning, but it was only delaying the misery.
Chris Denorfia led off the 10th against Yoervis Medina with an infield single after Brendan Ryan just missed a dazzling play on a between-the-legs stop. But his spinning throw was wild.
Everth Cabrera followed with a hit-and-run single – right to the spot vacated by Ryan as he covered second. The Mariners walked Chase Headley, last year’s RBI champion in the National League, to load the bases. Wil Venable laced a hard grounder that glanced off the glove of first baseman Kendrys Morales into short right field as Denorfia scored easily to win it for San Diego.
Ryan was kicking himself after the game, both for not completing the difficult play on Denorfia, and not changing the coverage on the steal attempt so that second baseman Nick Franklin covered.
“Oh, man. I don’t know how I’m going to sleep tonight after that,’’ Ryan said. “It’s a makeable play. Got to it, had it clean, good transfer. I’ve made that throw a million times. I feel bad for Medina. He’s going to have an L next to his name, but three ground balls. Granted, the last one’s hit hard, but I want to take full responsibility. That leadoff guy should have been out.
“There’s only two things are going to happen after that – they’re going to bunt it, or slash hit and run it. I was noot caught off guard there. I should have switched the coverage. I should have stayed home. Then we at least get one, or maybe get sneaky and get two out of it. That whole inning could have been completely different, and I feel like that was all me.”
However, the real culprit, as it has been so often, was the stumbling Mariners’ offense. They managed just four hits in the game, and struck out 13 times.
“We’ve had some tough losses these first couple of months,’’ manager Eric Wedge said. “I mean, some tough ones. The worm will turn. It will come back around. We have to keep fighting. These guys have to keep grinding it out. We’ve got to get the offense going. That’s when things loosen up. Everything sticks out when you’re not scoring runs or inconsistent like we have been.
“We’ve got some guys banged up that hurts us a little bit. But still, other guys here have to step up. I still believe it’s going to get done, but we have to get to the point we come to the ballpark every day and we know we can count on our offense to do more than we’ve been doing.”
Right now, those are empty words, heard in various forms far too often without the consistent changes needed to lift the Mariners to respectability.