Olivo goes on Dl after Mariners defeat

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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — For the Mariners, it was a game fraught with anguish and regrets — and with ramifications that went beyond the heartbreak of their 12-inning defeat at Tropicana Field.

The short story Monday is that the Rays beat them, 3-2, on a walkoff single off Brandon League by Elliott Johnson, who had entered the game in the fourth inning when All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria hurt his knee on a slide.

The ramifications surrounded a groin injury to catcher Miguel Olivo, who caught his spikes in the turf at Tropicana Field while making a play on a nubber in front of the plate in the ninth.

Olivo is headed for the disabled list, manager Eric Wedge said, and the Mariners are prepared to turn the catching over in his absence to rookie Jesus Montero — whose 11th inning homer gave the M’s a short-lived lead — and John Jaso, who has yet to catch at all this year.

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“We are prepared to do that,” Wedge said. “You guys asked how Jaso would get behind the plate, and I guess you know now. If we do that, they’ll split time.”

Wedge added that it’s possible they will call up Mike Carp, currently on a rehab assignment with Tacoma after a shoulder injury, to take Olivo’s spot on the roster. The other possibility is to call up another catcher, such as Guillermo Quiroz.

“That’s the other thing you’d weigh,” he said. “But if Montero gets more time behind the plate and Jaso gets more time behind the plate, then we could stick with two catchers.”

The Mariners played after the ninth inning Monday without a designated hitter. Montero replaced Olivo because Jaso had already been used as a pinch-hitter. Wedge was preparing to send Kevin Millwood to the plate as a pinch-hitter for the pitcher in the 13th inning had the game continued.

The other story behind the story was that Michael Saunders, in a critical situation in the ninth, elected on his own to bunt with runners on first and third, one out, and a 1-1 tie. The runner at third, Munenori Kawasaki, was thrown out at the plate, and the Mariners missed an opportunity — again — to reward Felix Hernandez with a victory for a brilliant outing.

“He did that on his own and he shouldn’t have,” Wedge said. “I’ve talked to him about it already and asked his reasons for it and he had good answers, but it’s still not what we want him to do right there.”

Saunders said he elected to bunt because he was struggling at the plate in the game.

“Yes, I did it all on my own,” he said. “I wasn’t seeing the ball too well tonight. It wasn’t the best-placed bunt. I feel if I could have gotten it another foot to the left, maybe it would have been fine. The third baseman was playing me back.”

Asked what he would do if the same situation presented itself, Saunders said, “It’s certainly something that will definitely come up again in the future. I’m not ruling out I’ll never do it again. I was just going on how I felt. I guess I made the wrong decision. Fly ball, ground ball, unless it’s hit hard right at someone, they’re probably not turning two on me. It was just one of those things I decided to go for it, I sold out on it, and it didn’t pay off.”

League, meanwhile, couldn’t preserve the lead that Montero’s homer in the 11th gave the Mariners. He gave up a leadoff double to Luke Scott, who moved to third on a fly out. Scott had to hold on a grounder to third, but B.J. Upton singled to left to bring in Scott with the tying run.

In the 12th, with League still on the mound, Ben Zobrist drew a one-out walk. Carlos Pena singled him to second, and Johnson followed with a single to left. Zobrist raced around third and beat Chone Figgins’ throw to the plate, which was slightly offline.

“To fight like we did, and finally score that run in the 11th — I didn’t do what I’m capable of doing, which is make them put the ball on the ground,” League said. “There were a lot of fly-ball outs, and I missed with location, especially that fastball to Upton. It was supposed to be a sinker in, I missed away, and he capitalized on it even though it was a broken bat. I still didn’t do what was expected, which is get a ground ball.”

And though the game-winning hit by Johnson was not scorched, “It was still in the air. If they’re not hitting the ball on the ground, and I’m a ground-ball pitcher, good things usually don’t happen.”

For the Mariners, not much good happened in this game.

Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or lstone@seattletimes.com. On Twitter @StoneLarry

No relief
Closer Brandon League has twice blown saves in games started by Felix Hernandez in the past 11 days.
Day Score What happened
4/19 Indians 2-1 League yields 2-run HR in 9th after Felix hands him 1-0 lead
4/30 Rays 3-2 League surrenders tying run in 11th, winning run in 12th
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