ANAHEIM, Calif. — The first five innings of Friday night’s game against the Los Angeles Angels reflected the Mariners’ exasperating season at the plate.
The Mariners placed runners in scoring position in three of those innings against pitcher Matt Shoemaker, making his major-league debut, and failed to bring any of them home.
The Mariners would pay for that inability to capitalize by losing to the Angels, 3-2, in 11 innings.
Chris Iannetta lined reliever Matt LaFramboise’s low fastball off the top of the left-field fence to bring Kole Calhoun home with the winning run.
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LaFramboise was the sixth pitcher the Mariners used. Both teams combined to use 13 pitchers.
Shoemaker — who led the Pacific Coast League with 160 strikeouts — conceded two hits and two walks in five innings, struck out five Mariners and imposed the following litany of frustration on them:
First inning: Michael Saunders reaches third base with two out but Kendry Morales strikes out.
Third inning: Dustin Ackley occupies second base with one out before Saunders and Franklin Gutierrez ground out.
Fifth inning: Nick Franklin moves to second on a wild pitch with nobody out and takes third on Carlos Triunfel’s ground out. But Ackley’s ground out ends the threat.
“He pitched a great game, especially for his debut,” Saunders said about Shoemaker. “You could tell that he was composed. He was mixing up his pitches and he was able to throw off-speed in hitters’ counts.
“That splittie was pretty good,” Saunders added, regarding Shoemaker’s split-fingered fastball. “He’s got the stuff to be successful at this level.”
The trend continued in the sixth against reliever Buddy Boshers. Saunders led off with a double, but Gutierrez and Morales struck out before Raul Ibanez popped out.
The Mariners finally scored in the top of the seventh, when Saunders’ two-run single put them ahead, 2-0. The key play occurred one at-bat before Saunders came to the plate.
With two out, Angels first baseman Mark Trumbo backhanded Ackley’s ground ball. But pitcher Michael Kohn arrived at first base late, and Ackley beat Trumbo’s throw to bring Saunders to the plate.
“To manage to beat the pitcher in that situation and keep the inning alive was huge,” Saunders said. “It definitely brought some life to us.”
Los Angeles responded with two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh. Kyle Seager’s throwing error enabled Trumbo to reach first base. Two outs later, Andrew Romine’s two-run double tied the score.
But a critical defensive play kept the score tied. Ackley dived on the outfield grass to snare J.B. Shuck’s grounder, then threw from his knees to retire Shuck.
The Angels placed runners at first and second base with nobody out in the eighth and with one out in the 10th but failed to score either time.
Mariners starting pitcher Erasmo Ramirez left the game after six innings with tightness in his right groin. In six innings, Ramirez allowed two unearned runs, six hits and one walk while striking out three.