ARLINGTON, Texas — It was not an ideal start for the Mariners or Chris Young. And yet it in the end, Seattle still had a chance to win the game and finish its quick five-game road trip with a winning record.
But the Mariners couldn’t quite come up with a key hit when needed, losing to the Rangers 4-3 on Wednesday afternoon at Globe Life Park.
It was a lost opportunity. Instead of finishing the road trip with a winning record, the M’s went 2-3 and fell to 22-23 for the season.
“I thought it was a good game,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We played well. We battled a lot of the elements and we came out on the short end. I thought our guys gave us a great effort today.”
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Young looked out of sorts to start the game. He walked Daniel Robertson to lead off the game and promptly gave up a two-run home run to Elvis Andrus. He then gave up three more singles to score another run. It looked like a disaster was building, but he managed to get out of trouble with a fielder’s choice, a walk, a strikeout and a ground out.
“I just didn’t have my rhythm in that first inning,” he said. “I dug us in a hole and it was too deep of a hole.”
Sure, the Rangers had taken a 3-0 lead, but it could have been so much worse. How did he try to find that rhythm?
“You just stay with it and keep going,” he said. “You just try and find it. Over the course of the season, you have those games. And if you can limit the damage early, you feel like you can pitch a good game. I just gave up one too many in the first.”
Young’s teammates helped him salvage the outing after the rough start.
Seattle tied the score in the fourth inning. James Jones led off the inning with a triple to left-center, extending his hitting streak to 11 games.
Michael Saunders scored Jones on a single up the middle. Robinson Cano followed with his second home run of the season, belting a line drive over the wall in dead-center field to tie the score at 3. Both of Cano’s home runs this season have come at Globe Life Park.
After having a handful of hard-hit balls hit the fence on the fly and just miss being homers, Cano wasn’t certain the ball was gone.
“I knew I hit it pretty good, but you never know,” Cano said. “It was a line drive. And it was windy out. I finally got one out.”
After the rough first inning, Young settled down. He was far from sharp, laboring through the second inning before finding a rhythm. He retired seven straight batters before giving up the winning run on a solo homer to Shin Soo-Choo on an 0-2 slider to start the fifth inning. Off the bat, it looked like a fly ball. But the ball just kept carrying and carrying in the hot Texas winds, until it landed in the Mariners’ bullpen.
“I thought it was a decent pitch,” Young said. “Some places it’s not (a homer), but it is here. If it was a better pitch, maybe he doesn’t hit it out. I thought it was a pretty good pitch, but it wasn’t since he’s a very good hitter. You tip your hat, but unfortunately it cost us the game.”
Perhaps, but the Mariners had plenty of chances to tie the score.
With one out and runners on first and second in the seventh inning, McClendon called on Stefen Romero to pinch-hit for Brad Miller. The move didn’t go as planned as Romero grounded to Adrian Beltre, who stepped on third and fired to first for a double play.
“You aren’t going to get a hit every time with runners in scoring position,” McClendon said.
In the eighth inning, Jones drew a leadoff walk and Saunders sacrifice-bunted him into scoring position. But Rangers reliever Neal Cotts was able to strike out both Cano and Kyle Seager to end the inning. Cotts got a little help with some questionable strike calls on both hitters.
Cano was very unhappy with the 2-1 slider that looked off the plate but was called a strike. If forced him to be defensive and swing at a pitch out of the zone on 2-2.
“Because you don’t know what he’s going to call,” Cano said.
The Mariners now return home for their longest homestand to date — 11 games. They are one game below .500, which is an accomplishment considering all the injuries and playing 27 of their first 45 on the road.
“Considering everything that’s happened, all in all, we’ve done OK, not great,” McClendon said. “I like my club. I like where we are. I think we’ve got room for improvement. I think we will improve.”
Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373
On Twitter: @RyanDivish