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It’s not like the Mariners hadn’t seen Philadelphia starter Jerome Williams before. The veteran right-hander has been around so long, few teams in baseball can say that. But Seattle has plenty of familiarity with the 32-year-old right-hander since he spent parts of the last three seasons with the Angels (2011-13), Astros (2014) and Rangers (2014) — all teams in the American League West.
Heck, the Mariners faced him in back-to-back games in May and once again in June when he was with the Astros. In his last two outings against Seattle, Williams gave up a total of six runs on four hits in six innings
But that experience and success mattered little on Monday night at Citizen Bank Ballpark.
Whether it was an over-aggressive approach from Seattle hitters, or Williams having a night where everything worked, or most likely a little of both, or just the strange game that is baseball, the Mariners did little against him and lost.
Seattle dropped to 67-57 on the season and back into a tie with the Tigers for the lead for the second wild card spot. Detroit (66-56) was off on Monday.
Williams pitched seven innings, giving up one run on three hits with three walks and four strikeouts to improve to 1-0 with the Phillies. The Mariners had just a handful of hard hit balls, never quite figuring out Williams’ 90-92 mph sinking fastball.
“You can’t take anything away from him,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He was pretty good. His cutter worked well. He threw the ball pretty decent.”
The Mariners never really mustered a threat against him. Williams allowed just two hits over the first six innings – a sharp single in the first inning and a bloop double in the third inning – both off the bat of Dustin Ackley.
The lone run charged to Williams wasn’t even surrendered by him. He started the eighth inning by hitting Chris Taylor with a pitch. He was lifted for reliever Ken Giles, who gave up a single to pinch hitter Endy Chavez and later a one-out RBI double to Ackley that scored Taylor.
“He pitched good, but we also got ourselves out on some pitches,” said Robinson Cano, who went hitless off Williams. “It was one of those nights where you thought you got your pitch right down the middle and you missed it. Tomorrow is another day.”
Mariners’ starter Roenis Elias had a much different outing. Called up from Class AAA Tacoma on Monday to make the start, the rookie left-hander gave an uneven performance, never looking comfortable on the mound. He didn’t work one clean inning while firing pitch after pitch out of the strike zone. And despite walking a season-high six batters, hitting another and giving up three hits, he allowed just one run in four innings of work.
“I was a little erratic with my fastball command,” Elias said through bullpen coach Mike Rojas.
Elias walked catcher Carlos Ruiz all three times he faced him. The only inning he didn’t issue a free pass was the second inning, where he gave up a leadoff single to Darin Ruf, but came back to retired the next three batters.
It seemed like a stretch of outs Elias could build upon. But he didn’t. Instead, he walked Ruiz with one out in the third inning, then later walked Ryan Howard with two outs and surrendered a RBI double to Marlon Byrd to make it 1-0.
Elias worked one more inning, walking Ruiz for the third time and hitting Chase Utley to load the bases. With two outs, Elias was able to get Ryan Howard to end the inning with a groundout. But at 90 pitches, he was done after four innings.
“He wasn’t sharp, but heck he only gave up one run,” McClendon said. “We had to go to our bullpen early. But we just didn’t get it done tonight.”
Elias wouldn’t use the recent stint with Class AAA Tacoma to control his workload as an excuse.
“No, that affected nothing,” he said. “It just wasn’t my day. These things happen in baseball. I know the next outing is going to be different. I’m going to work in my bullpen for my next outing.”
While Elias was able to limit damage despite his mistakes, his replacement couldn’t do the same. Fellow rookie Dominic Leone let the lead balloon to 4-0. Leone gave up a one-out double to Ruf, walked Cody Asche and then served up a three-run homer to light-hitting shortstop Andres Blanco, who hit liner over the short porch in right field. It was Blanco’s first homer since July 1, 2011.
“It was a bad pitch, one pitch,” Leone said. “It’s his first home in three years or something, but it just goes to show you that if you leave one over the middle, hitters can make you pay.”
The walk to Asche started the problems.
“That’s what I’m more upset about,” Leone said. “That’s what you can’t do. You can’t put another guy on. That’s when you get really backed up and put all the momentum on their side. It’s execution. We are coming down the stretch, and that’s what you have to do – execute.”
Down 4-0, the Mariners best chance to rally came in the eighth after Ackley’s RBI double. But with runners on second and third with one out, Giles struck out Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales swinging to end the threat.