The Mariners’ pitching staff did its job. Hisashi Iwakuma gave Seattle a quality start despite not feeling sharp, and the bullpen was almost impeccable.
But for 15 of the 16 innings on Friday night and into early Saturday morning, the Mariners’ offense was held scoreless. The result was predictable – a 3-2 loss filled with stranded base runners and missed opportunities.
Mike Trout – the presumptive American League MVP thus far this season – doubled with one out in the 16th off of reliever Dominic Leone.
“I left a pitch a little bit in and a little bit middle and he just drove that pitch into the gap and he’s got the wheels to leg it out,” Leone said. “For me, it was a lack of execution. I think if get that pitch down and away like I wanted, maybe he rolls over or it’s just a single.”
Leone looked like he might get out of the jam, gloving a hard ground ball up the middle from Albert Pujols, freezing Trout at second and getting the second out.
But with two outs, pinch hitter Efren Navarro singled up the middle on a soft ground ball to score Trout and give the Angels (58-37) a win and ending the 5 hour and 13 minute marathon.
“It was a sinker down and away and nine out of 10 times he rolls over on it,” Leone said. “But tonight was one of those night’s where it found the hole.”
It was a damper on an otherwise solid night for the bullpen, which worked eight scoreless innings and allowed just five hits over that span until the 16th.
“They did a nice job,” McClendon said. “Our bullpen has been good all year. Tonight was no different. That was a big challenge, particularly against a tough team like that.”
The Mariners offense totaled 15 hits, which was good, but stranded 14 base runners, which was awful. Going 2-for-14 with runners in scoring position leads to that number. That simply isn’t going to win games.
“We certainly had opportunities, but so did they,” McClendon said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Going 16 innings and burning your bullpen in the first game out of the All-Star break isn’t ideal. But McClendon said only Tom Wihelmsen, who was brilliant pitching four shutout innings and allowing one run, will not be available to pitch on Saturday.
“We were going to lift him after three, but he said he was good and had one more in him,” McClendon said.
Iwakuma was solid. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits with now walks and three strikeouts against one of the best offenses in baseball. He was lifted after throwing just 77 pitches, but was set to face the Angels’ top of the lineup for the fourth time.
“I felt like I was able to do my part for the seven innings,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki. “The four days off kind of threw me off.”
A few numbers …
Eight Mariners pitchers combined for 15 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on 12 hits with just one walk and 13 strikeouts – they threw 191 pitches with 135 strikes. Nine Angels pitchers combined for 15 hits, two runs, four walks and 14 strikeouts. They threw 233 pitches and 156 strikes
Robinson Cano reached base in his first five at-bats with four hits and a walk. He was 4-for-6. James Jones, Dustin Ackley, Endy Chavez and Brad Miller had two hits each.
It was a tough night for Kyle Seager 0-for-7 with three strikeouts and left six runners on base. Mike Zunino 0-for-7 with a strikeout, a failed sac bunt attempt and an error in the field and left three runners on base.
The game took 5 hours and 13 minutes.