Well, that was ugly.
The worst start of pitcher Roenis Elias’ young career. A run-costing error by first baseman Logan Morrison. Another night with few results for a slumping offense.
What it produced, when it finally ended, was an 8-1 clunker against the Twins in front of 16,460 people, although they could be forgiven if they didn’t stick around until the end.
“They kicked our butts pretty good tonight,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It happens.”
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Concern over the offense has been the undercurrent of the season, and it has bubbled over recently. The Mariners haven’t scored more than three runs in any of their past six games. They are 3 for their last 44 with runners in scoring position after a 1-for-8 night against the Twins.
McClendon has maintained a steady hand this season when his offense has dipped, and he has done the same during this most recent skid. But the Mariners have showed little punch of late, and the calls for adding another bat before the trade deadline will likely only get louder.
“I’ve said it time and time again: From an offensive standpoint, we’re going to be challenged some days,” McClendon said. “And it won’t look good. But I’ll take the whole picture, and I think we’re doing OK.”
The problem against the Twins wasn’t necessarily the volume of hits; the Twins had eight runs on nine hits while the Mariners had one run on 12 hits. It was that the Mariners had 11 singles, and they mostly scattered them.
They had two on with two outs in the third inning, but Morrison fouled out on the first pitch he saw. They had two more on in the fifth inning after Endy Chavez and James Jones each singled with one out. But Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager couldn’t deliver.
“We got some hits,” Seager said, “but we weren’t able to capitalize when guys were on base or in scoring position.”
Cano drove in a run in the seventh inning with a double, and the Mariners had two runners on later that inning. But Morrison struck out to end the inning.
That has been the way it has gone of late for the Mariners, but they’ve often stayed in games because of their pitching. That wasn’t the case Wednesday.
Elias turned in his third straight rough outing, and it started badly.
Brian Dozier led off the game with a double before Elias buckled down to get the next two batters. But Kendrys Morales burned Elias with a two-out double that gave the Twins a 1-0 lead.
Elias walked the first batter he faced in the second inning, then gave up four straight hits — two singles and two doubles. Morales capped the four-run second inning with a sacrifice fly.
McClendon pulled Elias with one out in the fourth inning after he put on two more base runners.
“Just no command…,” McClendon said. “He’s just been in a funk his last couple outings with no command of the fastball.”
He added, “When you don’t have command of the fastball, I don’t care how hard you throw or how good you think your stuff is, you’re going to get hit. And he just has not had command.”
Reliever Stephen Pryor came in for his first appearance since last April because of a lat injury. He walked the first batter he faced and then got Morales to hit a grounder to first, but Morrison whiffed on the ball as it went under his glove. Pryor was charged with an error, and the Twins ended up tacking on two more runs in the inning.
Elias gave up seven runs, six of which were earned, and walked three batters while striking out three. He has allowed at least five runs in each of his past three starts. He had given up that many runs only twice in his previous 16 starts.
“One thing I told him tonight: He’ll get through these growing pains, and we’ll be there every step of the way,” McClendon said. “But it was a tough night for him in a lot of different ways. He’ll bounce back.”
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