The Mariners’ offense looked good early but the pitching staff collapsed. The bullpen allowed six runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Mariners’ goal was to win this series against the Houston Astros. It was not a surprising or even revealing goal because what team doesn’t set out to win a series?
But still, that was the goal.
Mariners manager Scott Servais said so after Tuesday’s loss, and he said it again before Wednesday night’s 10-5 loss to the Astros — two losses that kept the Mariners from realizing that goal and dropped them to 2-8 this season.
Texas Rangers @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
On Tuesday, the Mariners lost largely because of a probably-should-have-caught-it fly ball that wasn’t caught in the sixth inning. On Wednesday, the Mariners lost because of a bullpen collapse — first in the seventh inning, then extended into the eighth.
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For the second time in four days, the Mariners lost when they led by at least five runs.
What they were left with afterward was the silver lining of having an off day on Thursday.
“Things are not going our way right now, but you’ve got to make your own luck, too,” Servais said. “You’ve got to make your own breaks.”
“That off day tomorrow I think is going to benefit all of us just as far as to refresh everything and forgetting about the tough first week-and-a-half,” Mariners starter Yovani Gallardo said.
Mariners reliever Dan Altavilla allowed three runs in the seventh inning, including one on a wild pitch, erasing the final margin of what had once been a 5-0 lead (Dillon Overton, another reliever, gave up three runs in the eighth inning).
“Just didn’t have it tonight,” Altavilla said.
For Servais, an obvious problem right now is the strike zone, both for hitters and pitchers. The issue was most obvious with Gallardo on the mound in the fourth inning. With the Mariners leading 5-0, Gallardo walked the first two batters of the inning. Both those runners eventually scored, including one of them after Gallardo issued a bases-loaded walk.
“Just lost command there for a couple hitters,” Gallardo said. “In that situation, something like that can’t happen, especially when you’re up five runs. When something like that happens, it just can’t be that way. Just definitely can’t. I think early in the game I was attacking the strike zone, just being aggressive. And then just tried to be too perfect in that fourth inning, for some reason. It’s frustrating. It’s frustrating something like that can happen from one inning to the next.”
It was also instructive of what’s been bothering the Mariners, according to Servais.
“If you go back to what we pride ourselves on is controlling the strike zone,” Servais said. “We’re not doing it. We’re not doing it on the mound, we’re not doing in the batter’s box. The team that controls the line of scrimmage or the strike zone typically wins most of the time in our game. And we’re not doing it. We’ve got to get back to doing that and attacking.”
The Mariners led 5-0 after three innings thanks, in part, to home runs from shortstop Taylor Motter and first baseman Mike Freeman. Motter’s home run, a two-run blast, was just the third of his career. Freeman’s home run, in the 163rd game of his career and on his 163rd big-league at-bat, was his first home run in the majors.
But the Mariners squandered that lead, partly because of Gallardo, who allowed four runs, and partly because of Altavilla, who gave up three more in the seventh inning.
The Mariners blew a six-run lead on Sunday against the Angels.
“Our guys are very frustrated,” Servais said. “They know they’re better than how they’ve been playing. But it’s easy to talk about. You’ve got to go out and do it.”