This entire season has been spent watching the Mariners struggle with runners in scoring position. They went 0-for-9 at it tonight and took a 4-3 los to the Kansas City Royals.
There were some positives, like the Mariners hitting their first home run since Friday and executing well situationally in the seventh to tie it up.
But in the end, the Royals are trying to stay in a playoff race while the Mariners are playing their kids and the differences showed up late. Mike Zunino was overwhelmed y some Luke Hochevar sinkers in the eighth with one out and runners on second and third.
Then, in the bottom of the eighth, Abraham Almonte dove for a ball he had no shot at catching and turned a single into a double by Mike Moustakas. Salvador Perez singled home the decisive run with two out off Yoervis Medina after that and the Mariners lost their third in a row.
The Mariners outhit the Royals 10-9. But they failed to score with runners at the corners and none out in the second inning and then again in the eighth and other times in between.
“Those are the types of situations with these young kids that they’ve got to get comfortable being in,’’ Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We’ve got some great, young competitors here, who just struggle in those types of situations. You have to take advantage of them, whether they be early in an inning with a couple of runners on and nobody out or late in the inning and trying to get that two-out knock.’’
But this situational stuff, of course, has plagued the Mariners all season. They did a good job of it in the seventh as Almonte legged out a bunt single, then went first-to-third on a single to right by pinch-hitter Kendrys Morales. Brad Miller then brought the tying run home with a grounder to the right side. That home run by Kyle Seager in the sixth was also the first by the Mariners since Friday and only the third extra-base hit in 34 innings by the Mariners.
So, there were some positives. But once again, not enough.
“I think the key is to keep getting guys on base,’’ Seager said. “You keep getting guys on base, you’re eventually going to get some hits. You get pitched a little bit differently, maybe, with guys in scoring position but it’s still baseball. If we keep getting guys in scoring position we’ll break through and maybe score some runs.’’