Joe Saunders took the lumps statistically, but they were not all his to take.
No, the defense behind him played a large hand in the Mariners’ 10-5 loss to the last-place Milwaukee Brewers on Friday in front of 34,827 fans on Fireworks Night. In what is now developing into an unwanted trend, Seattle had three errors — two more from third baseman Kyle Seager — and the Brewers’ bats made those mistakes count.
“It’s been frustrating,” acting manager Robby Thompson said. “It’s even more frustrating as we continue on. I don’t think Joe Saunders threw the ball that bad.”
Saunders certainly wasn’t perfect, but he also wasn’t as bad as his final line might appear: He lasted 41
3 innings and gave up nine runs, but only four of those runs were earned.
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Saunders entered the night with a 6.43 ERA in his last four starts, and while Friday’s performance certainly won’t help that number, the fault was not his alone. Saunders gave up seven hits, but Thompson seemed fine with the way Saunders pitched.
Saunders exited after former Mariner Yuniesky Betancourt blasted a grand slam that blew the game open at 9-2. Saunders is now 10-11 with a 4.69 ERA.
“He got the grounds balls,” Thompson said, “and we didn’t make plays behind him.”
The trouble started in the third inning, when Scooter Gennett reached on an error by second baseman Nick Franklin, his ninth of the year. Martin Maldonado followed with a single, and both he and Gennett advanced on a throwing error by Kyle Seager. The Brewers turned that into two runs when Norichika Aoki doubled .
Seager made up for his mistake by singling to center with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the third. That scored two runs and tied the score.
But Seager had another error in the fourth inning, and the Brewers scored three runs in the inning. Seager has four errors in his last three games, and 11 this season.
“He’s having right now a tough time of it,” Thompson said. “He just has to remember really how good he is down there and not fall into a trap of being uncomfortable.”
Here’s how ruthless the Brewers were offensively in the early innings: Even after Milwaukee manager Ron Roenicke was ejected in the fourth inning for arguing that fan interference down the line should have resulted in a run for Milwaukee, the Brewers still scored three runs that inning.
Milwaukee starter Kyle Lohse, meanwhile, lasted seven innings and kept the Mariners mostly at bay.
Justin Smoak breathed a little life into the Mariners’ offense with a two-run homer to left-center field in the eighth inning.
The Brewers also had three errors, but Seattle couldn’t produce the big inning like Milwaukee did with its five-run fifth.
“We just didn’t have enough time today to get something going,” Smoak said.