ANAHEIM, Calif. — As it has done all season, the Mariners’ pitching staff did its job. Hisashi Iwakuma gave Seattle a quality start, and the bullpen was impeccable.
But for 15 of the 16 innings Friday night, the Mariners’ offense was held scoreless. The result was predictable — a 3-2 loss that stretched from Friday into the early-morning hours on Saturday, 5 hours and 13 minutes filled with stranded base runners and missed opportunities.
Mike Trout — the presumptive American League MVP thus far this season — doubled with one out in the 16th off reliever Dominic Leone.
“I left a pitch a little bit in and a little bit middle and he just drove that pitch into the gap and he’s got the wheels to leg it out,” Leone said. “For me, it was a lack of execution. I think if I get that pitch down and away like I wanted, maybe he rolls over or it’s just a single.”
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Leone looked like he might get out of the jam, gloving a hard ground ball up the middle from Albert Pujols, freezing Trout at second and getting the second out.
But pinch hitter Efren Navarro, who replaced a struggling Josh Hamilton, singled up the middle on a soft ground ball to score Trout and give the Angels (58-37) a win and ending the marathon.
“It was a sinker down and away and nine out of 10 times he rolls over on it,” Leone said. “But tonight was one of those night’s where it found the hole.”
It was a damper on an otherwise solid night for the bullpen, which worked eight scoreless innings and allowed just five hits over that span until the 16th.
“They did a nice job,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Our bullpen has been good all year. Tonight was no different. That was a big challenge, particularly against a tough team like that.”
The Mariners offense totaled 15 hits, which was good, but stranded 14 base runners, which was awful. Going 2 for 14 with runners in scoring position leads to that number. That simply isn’t going to win games.
“We certainly had opportunities, but so did they,” McClendon said. “That’s just the way it goes.”
Going 16 innings and burning your bullpen in the first game out of the All-Star break isn’t ideal. But McClendon said only Tom Wihelmsen, who pitched four scoreless innings, will not be available to pitch on Saturday.
“We were going to lift him after three, but he said he was good and had one more in him,” McClendon said.
Iwakuma was solid. He pitched seven innings, giving up two runs on six hits with no walks and three strikeouts against one of the best offenses in baseball. He was lifted after throwing just 77 pitches, but was set to face the Angels’ top of the lineup for the fourth time.
“I felt like I was able to do my part for the seven innings,” Iwakuma said through interpreter Antony Suzuki. “The four days off kind of threw me off.”
The Angels got to Iwakuma in the bottom of the fifth. Howie Kendrick led off with a single to left field. David Freese followed with a double to the gap in right-center. The Mariners looked like they had Kendrick out at home as he was trying to score from first base thanks to a strong relay throw from Robinson Cano. But Kendrick jarred the ball loose from Mike Zunino’s glove as he applied the tag at home.
The ball rolled all the way to the wall, allowing Freese to move up to third. That extra base proved critical. Freese didn’t score on an impressive diving catch by James Jones on C.J. Chron’s shallow pop up to center field. But with the Mariners forced to play in on the grass with only one out, Freese was able to score on Hank Conger’s chopper of ground ball that bounced over the head of Cano at second base.
The Mariners didn’t do much against Angels’ starter Jered Weaver. Their run of failures with runners in scoring in position didn’t disappear during the All-Star break.
In the fifth inning, Justin Smoak led off with a double off the wall in right-center. Dustin Ackley bunted him to third, but Brad Miller struck out and Zunino popped up to end the inning.
An inning later, Seattle had runners on first and second with one out. Kyle Seager struck out, Logan Morrison walked to load the bases and Smoak struck out to end the inning.
They finally broke through in the seventh inning in a big way. Ackley led off the inning with a double to left-center and Miller atoned for his earlier failures by stinging a single into center to score Ackley. It knocked Weaver from the game. Miller later came around to score on Endy Chavez’s bloop single to center to tie the score at 2-2.
But they wouldn’t score against an Angels’ bullpen that is one of the worst in baseball. They used nine pitchers with Hector Santiago picking up the win in relief.
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Ryan Divish: 206-464-2373 or firstname.lastname@example.org