It was the type of game that ends winning streaks.
The Mariners weren’t good in any facet of the game, committed costly mistakes almost ensuring defeat as their brief three-game win streak come to an end. They didn’t look very sharp or crisp.
And yet they had many chances to still win the game, which made the loss that much more frustrating.
With base loaded and no outs, outfielder George Springer hit a high chopper that bounced just out the reach of third baseman Kyle Seager to score Jose Altuve from third base.
It was the fourth walk-off loss the Mariners (5-4) have endured this season. They’ve now dropped three of four games against the Astros – who still have the worst record in the American League at 10-19 even with the win.
Obviously, Felix Hernandez was pretty ordinary tonight. Well, there were reasons. He was battling the flu bug that had bothered Mike Zunino earlier in the week. Hernandez came down with the bug yesterday and said he’s lost nine pounds since then.
“He didn’t have much strength going out there,” McClendon said. “He battled out there and gave us five innings. I didn’t know what we would get out of him.”
Hernandez lasted just five innings – his shortest outing of the season – giving up three runs (two earned) on five hits with three walk and six strikeouts. He called it good after started to being bothered by cramps.
“It affected me a lot,” he said. “I was wasting a lot of energy, but I still have to go out there and do my job. That’s the reason I’m here.”
Hernandez allowed a base runner every in each of the five innings he pitched.
“I was trying to save some energy but they fouled off a lot of pitches and I wasn’t throwing a lot of strikes,” he said.
His defense didn’t help. Abraham Almonte had that huge whiff on a catch and center and later committed another error in the field. At the plate, he struggled going 0-for-3 with a walk and a strikeouts.
When asked about the struggles of Almonte, McClendon responded with a summation of the collective group:
“We had a lot of guys that can’t get out of their way.”
McClendon was disappointed with Justin Smoak. After Kyle Seager put them up 4-3 lead in the sixth inning with a bases-loaded, two-run double to right-center. The Mariners had a chance to tack on more with runners on second and third and one out. But Smoak struck out and Ackley grounded out. Smoak went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a walk.
“He didn’t have a good night either,” McClendon said of Smoak’s at-bat. “I would have liked to see him put that ball in play. I’ve been preaching that all spring and all throughout the season. Those are big RBIs there. Get that one. Put it in play. Get it to the outfield. And he just didn’t do it.”
Reliever Yoervis Medina didn’t do it either. He was brought in to hold the lead in the eighth and hand it over to Fernando Rodney in the ninth. Instead, he issued a one-out walk to Alex Presley, which would prove costly. Matt Dominguez followed with a short single to left with Presley was stealing on the pitch and advancing to third. Jonathan Villar then hit a swinging bunt went about 22 feet into the infield, but it was far enough and slow enough for Presley to scamper home with the tying run and eventually sending the game into extra innings.
Could Medina have tried to get Presley after he hesitated in the baseline?
“We probably had him caught, but it’s a reactionary play and pitcher’s just don’t do it that often,” he said. “You are asking him to do a lot right there. He didn’t see him coming. His instincts are to throw it to first.”