Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn’t intend to shake things up, but that’s what happened on Monday.
Franklin Gutierrez returned from the disabled list and was inserted right into the starting lineup after nursing a strained right hamstring. He batted third in just his third start since June to open the series against the Texas Rangers.
“By getting Gutierrez back, it puts you in position to do some things,” Wedge said.
“Things” meaning generate some offense. Well, neither Gutierrez nor his teammates provided enough of that to prevent an 8-3 loss to the Rangers before 15,995 fans at Safeco Field.
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“I’m looking to score runs,” Wedge said of inserting Gutierrez into the lineup. “I like the dynamic of Brad (Miller) and Nick (Franklin) up there (at the top of the order) … We’ve just got to collectively get it together.”
Mariners pitcher Joe Saunders didn’t help Monday, giving up two runs in the opening inning and another two in the fourth, both in two-out situations.
In the seventh, Saunders intentionally walked Adrian Beltre only to watch A.J. Pierzynski smash a three-run homer to right on the first pitch of the at-bat. It put the Rangers up 7-3. Saunders (10-13) was done after that inning, having given up nine hits and three walks.
“It was one of those weird nights where I thought I pitched better than the results,” Saunders said afterward. “I’ve been having some bad luck.”
First baseman Mitch Moreland added another homer for the Rangers, off relief pitcher Yoervis Medina in the eighth to close out the scoring.
Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager hit a solo homer deep to right to make it 4-3 in the fourth.
Miller tied the game in the third inning with a two-run single.
“It’s been a tough homestand … but we’re four games removed from when we were swinging the bats well,” Seager said. “I don’t think doubt has crept into anybody’s mind.”
The Mariners designated Aaron Harang for assignment to clear space on the roster for Gutierrez. The Mariners have 10 days to trade or release Harang, who went 5-11 with a 5.76 earned-run average. It’s possible that Class AAA starter Taijuan Walker could replace Harang in the rotation, but Wedge said that hasn’t been determined yet.
“We’ve got multiple guys that we feel like have a chance to be pretty good starting pitchers for us in the future,” Wedge said. “Because we have options like that, we feel we can cover the rest of the season.”