Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn’t come down all that hard on his team, despite the two hts and zero runs tonight. The Mariners did hit several balls hard, as Wedge noted, but defenders were right there to scoop them up or run them down.
None was more spectacular than the play made by Mike Trout in left field on that blast to the wall by Mike Zunino in the seventh. With two on and two out, Zunino cranked one that initially had the crowd groaning as if it was a home run.
But Zunino later admitted he didn’t get all of it. Instead, Trout had just enough room to sprint back and haul the ball in right over his head.
“Nobody else in the game catches that ball,’’ Wedge said. “I thought it was going to be out of here, but it must have had a little bit of topspin.
“But a ball that’s hit that hard and not real high, right over your head, to get back there like he did and catch it? Nobody else in the game can do that.’’
Still, the Mariners didn’t do much at any other point in the game. They had two on in the second inning after a bizarre infield chopper went for a Kendrys Morales single. Bt Michael Saunders popped out foul.
Kyle Seager had the only hard hit of the night by Seattle, a single in the seventh.
Here’s a telling stat. The last 12 games, Mariners starters have posted an ERA of 1.77. But the team itself is just 6-6 in those games. Why? They are scoring just 2.42 runs per game over that span.
“You’ve got to score if you’re going to have a chance to win,” Wedge said.
And the Mariners just can’t. Unless they are hitting home runs, they do very little scoring if any. They are seeing all their runs being scored in just one or two innings per night, just like in the bad old days of 2010, 2011 and parts of 2012.
When you only score in one and maybe two innings, it’s tough to separate unless there’s a crooked number in there somplace.
The Mariners got away with winning in Oakland on one grand slam by Henry Blanco and no other scoring. Last night, they won in extras after initially hitting two solo homers in the second inning and doing nothing else the rest of the way until the 10th.
Tonight, once Zunino’s ball was caught, the Mariners were done.
“Aw man, that whole outfield, they can really play,’’ Zunino said of Trout’s catch. “It’s one of those things where it’s a valuable weapon to them. He is obviously a great defender and he’s done it many times before.’’
And Trout used his speed to get the only run of the game. He legged out that double in the seventh even though Ibanez did a nice job of cutting the ball off in left. Then, he took third on a flyout that was hit medium depth to right center.
Of course, he pretty much trotted home on the Saunders wild pitch.
“It was a changeup down and away,’’ Zunino said. “It just sort of sped up on me a bit. We were obviously just trying to be careful over there in that situation and wanted to keep the ball down in the zone.’’
Joe Saunders scattered six hits, got inning-ending double play grounders from Albert Pujols in the second and Mark Trumbo in the eighth. But hsi team couldn’t score. The last time he faced his former Angels squad, he lost 2-0 when the Diamondbacks gave him just one hit of support.
So, that’s zero runs on three hits of support by his team in two games facing the Angels.
“It was a tough one,’’ Saunders said. “I’m more mad at myself for letting a run score on a wild pitch. It’s just one of those things where runs were hard to come by tonight.’’
They’ve been tough to come by for over a month. And if they don’t start coming soon, this 2013 season will be tossed in with the rest of the 2010-2012 as another lost cause.
To prevent that, the Mariners — back to nine under .500 — have to win behind Felix Hernandez tomorrow, finish this trip with a winning record, then figure out how to get some offense by calling up reinforcements tomorrow.
They can start by putting a healthy Justin Smoak in the lineup tomorrow. This walking wounded stuff with Morales and Morse isn’t working out all that well and sitting a healthy guy when you can’t get on base or notch big hits probably will come back to bite more times than not.