The M’s had a 3-1 lead heading into the seventh inning, but for the second straight night the bullpen couldn’t hold it in a 6-3 loss.
On Saturday night, the Mariners retired the number of Edgar Martinez in a beautiful ceremony that paid tribute to the past.
“Awesome,” manager Scott Servais said. “The crowd, the turnout, just the whole deal. I couldn’t be any happier for him.”
“Obviously, it didn’t end the way we were hoping tonight,” Servais added.
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No, it didn’t.
The Mariners lost for the third straight game, this time losing 6-3 to the Angels in front of a crowd of 45,388 at Safeco Field. And for the second straight game, the Mariners lost because they blew a late lead, this time because relievers Casey Lawrence and Tony Zych combined to allow five runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The loss dropped the Mariners back to .500, behind the Angels and the Twins in the wild-card standings.
“The story of our season is we have been up and down,” Servais said. “We were on a really good high here. Played great on the road trip. Coming back home, our bullpen, which has been so good the majority of the year, we’ve stubbed our toe. We haven’t been able to get through it.”
There is a lot to unpack from this loss, so let’s start in the seventh inning, the moment the Mariners blew their 3-1 lead.
Starter Erasmo Ramirez gave the M’s more than they could have anticipated: six strong innings in which he allowed only one run.
“Giving us six innings was probably more than we expected going into the game,” Servais said. “But he was on top of his game.”
Ramirez had thrown 82 pitches — the most he’d thrown since early June — and he admitted his command started to falter in the sixth inning.
“My body felt good but maybe my arm was a little down,” Ramirez said.
So Servais had Lawrence pitch the seventh, and he allowed a single and a two-run home run to Luis Valbuena that tied the game.
Why did Servais go with Lawrence in the seventh? Because closer Edwin Diaz wasn’t available, disrupting the hierarchy in the bullpen. Without Diaz, Nick Vincent slid into the closer’s role, leaving Lawrence and Zych to bridge the gap.
The Mariners had a chance to take the lead right back in the seventh inning. Newly acquired first baseman Yonder Alonso singled with one out, and Robinson Cano followed with a double in the gap.
Mariners third base coach Manny Acta waved Alonso around third, but the relay throw from Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons beat Alonso.
“Good call, bad call, obviously it didn’t work in our favor,” Servais said. “It was a big out in the game.”
Alonso said he wasn’t surprised by the decision to send him.
“No, no, no,” he said. “I had a good secondary (lead), the ball was hit in the gap, and I was going hard. There are a lot of things that have to happen well for that play to happen the way it did.”
In the eighth inning, Zych walked the first two batters he faced before allowing a two-run double to Albert Pujols and another run on a sacrifice fly to Simmons.
“That’s what hurts the worst,” Zych said of the walks. “Can’t let free guys on base in those situations.”
The Mariners returned to Seattle on Thursday three games above .500, but they’ve lost three straight to the Angels, who have passed them in the wild-card standings.
“We’ve got to figure out how to win games,” Servais said. “We’ve got to figure out how to finish games. I think that’s really important for us.”