On Sunday, the dagger to the Mariners' heart came at the very end, as they trudged off the field having blown a two-run lead in the ninth...
On Sunday, the dagger to the Mariners’ heart came at the very end, as they trudged off the field having blown a two-run lead in the ninth to the Angels.
On Monday, the M’s got their moment of supreme frustration out of the way early in a 1-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field.
On the second pitch of the game by Baltimore starter Rich Hill, Ichiro lashed a double to left to extend his hitting streak to 25 games, matching his 2007 club record.
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But what happened after that was indicative of the Mariners’ ongoing offensive woes, which reached critical mass on a night in which they ended with 20 straight outs.
Ichiro wound up on third on the play on a throwing error by Baltimore left fielder Nolan Reimold. But he died there as Yuniesky Betancourt popped out to second, Adrian Beltre struck out, and Mike Sweeney popped out to first.
“It’s an awful shame to squander a pitching performance like we had by both [Jarrod] Washburn and [Chris] Jakubauskas and have nothing to show for it,” fumed Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu.
“Offensively, it goes back to what we’ve talked about all year — fundamental baseball, and not executing when we need to.”
The Mariners made southpaw Hill, who entered the game with a 6.14 earned-run-average, look like Dave McNally, to pick a stylish lefty from Baltimore’s past.
Hill allowed just two hits over seven innings and retired the final 14 batters he faced. This from a guy that in his last start against Toronto had given up seven runs in 3-1/3 innings, allowing six hits and walking three.
“It’s unfortunate we have lack of patience against a guy like Rich Hill,” a visibly frustrated Wakamatsu said. “One thing Rich did real well tonight was throw his curve at any time in the count, but we chased a lot of pitches, which was lack of patience, and, really, lack of adjustments.
“I think the whole tempo of the game is set when you don’t score that first run.”
Baltimore manager Dave Trembley agreed, from his positive vantage point.
“That seemed to really give him a lift when they had the guy on third and nobody out and he got out of it,” Trembley said of Hill. “You could see he had a little bit more of a hop in the step. I think that really got him going.”
Washburn, wearing a knee brace he obtained while in Anaheim on the recommendation of former teammate Scot Shields, was outstanding. But unlike the Mariners, the Orioles were able to get their man home from third, and that was the difference.
In his last outing, Washburn exited with a 3-0 lead after six in Oakland, only to watch the bullpen blow the game, 4-3.
On Monday, Washburn extended his scoreless streak to 11 innings, but with the score still 0-0 in the sixth, the Orioles finally pushed across a run. The rally was started by ex-Mariner Adam Jones, who returned to Seattle as a budding star in the American League.
Jones, hitting .344 entering the game, led off with a double over the head of Mariners left fielder Wladimir Balentien, who appeared to misread the ball.
“We talked a little bit about that,” Wakamatsu said. “He gets in a position where he’s bent over a little bit, and he turned one way and turned the other way. [Outfield coach] Lee Tinsley talked to him right after the play. The ball was a low line drive, and those are awfully hard to judge. It’s unfortunate.”
Jones moved to third on Nick Markakis’ single to center, and scored on Aubrey Huff’s sacrifice. Washburn, who had been holding left-handed hitters to a .145 (9 for 62) average this season, was upset at having the damage done by lefty swingers Markakis and Huff.
“I feel I should have made a better pitch against Markakis,” Washburn said. “I’ve been nails against lefties all year. I’ve got a couple of lefties coming up right there with guys in scoring position, and I didn’t do the job. I make pitches right there in that inning and they don’t score, we’re still playing.”
Of course, the way the Mariners were hitting, they might have still been playing in the 25th, like Texas and Boston College did in the college baseball regionals. They are last in the American League, and 29th out of 30 teams overall, in scoring.
“It breaks my heart,” Sweeney said. “Washburn went out there with a bum knee and pitched his heart out. To not get a run, it’s tough. We feel we’re letting down Wak, the organization, and the fans. But most of all, we’re letting down each other, because we’re a lot better than this.”
George Sherrill, sent to Baltimore with Jones in the deal that landed tonight’s starter, Erik Bedard, worked the ninth for his 11th save.
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146
For the record
v. AL West: 13-14
vs. L.A.: 7-6
vs. Oakland: 6-3
vs. Texas: 0-5
vs. AL East: 4-3
vs. AL Cent.: 5-10
vs. NL: 2-1
vs. LHP: 10-7
vs. RHP: 14-21
Extra inn.: 4-2
Monday’s crowd: 16,979
Season total: 670,604
Biggest crowd: 45,958 (April 14)
Smallest crowd: 16,002 (May 19)
Average (25 dates): 26,824
2008 average (25 dates): 27,444