Perhaps the closed roof and climate-controlled atmosphere of the new Globe Life Field with its air conditioning and comfortable temperatures were just the thing to cool off the Mariners’ bats.
OK, that’s probably not really the reason.
But a night after the Mariners’ put up their best offensive showing this season, which included 15 hits and three homers with the Globe Life roof open and temps in the mid-90s, the Rangers decided to play the game Tuesday night in Arlington, Texas, with the roof closed and a first-pitch temperature of 72 degrees.
With no sweltering Texas heat, Seattle produced tepid results at the plate — four hits — all singles — against a previously struggling starting pitcher and a cadre of relievers in a disappointing 4-2 defeat against the Rangers.
“Not quite as much to talk about as last night,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “It was one of those games where they got a few through the infield and we didn’t.”
The Mariners were trying to win a third consecutive game, and were sending their most successful pitcher, Marco Gonzales, to the mound to make the start while Texas was going with left-hander Mike Minor, who hasn’t been the same pitcher he was a year ago when he had 3.59 ERA. He came into the game with a 6.89 ERA in his first three starts.
It couldn’t be have been set up better for success for the Mariners.
But baseball doesn’t believe in such easy set-ups.
Gonzales wasn’t quite as crisp as normal, not getting as many first-pitch strikes and struggling to put away hitters when he did get up in the count. But typical to his competitive nature, he still gave the Mariners a decent outing, working five innings while allowing four runs on seven hits with a walk and two strikeouts to fall to 2-2 on the season.
“He hung in there and wasn’t quite as sharp and commanding the strike zone as his last couple times out,” Servais said.
Still, Gonzales allowed only three “hard hit” balls with exit velocities over 95 mph.
“I think there were only a couple balls hit hard,” he said. “I’ll take that outing, making good pitches and staying in the bottom part of the zone to get some ground balls, you know that there’s not much I can do besides that.”
The most aggravating of the ground-ball singles came in the bottom of the first. The Rangers loaded the bases with one out after Gonzales gave up two singles and then hit Joey Gallo with a pitch.
Facing Nick Solak, Gonzales wanted a ground ball for a double play. He got a bouncing ball up the middle that seemed like at least one out. But the speedy turf and the Mariners’ defensive alignment allowed the ball to get up the middle for a two-run single.
“Little frustrated with bases loaded and that chopper up the middle,” he said. “You feel like in those situations you make your pitch, you do everything right and the ball doesn’t go your way. “
Minor, who was working on a limited pitch count after battling arm fatigue and looking shaky in his first three starts this season, pitched four scoreless innings and allowed just one hit with three walks and four strikeouts.
The Mariners had chances to shorten Minor’s outing significantly, starting in the first inning. With two outs, Kyle Lewis worked a walk and Kyle Seager reached on an infield single to pose a serious scoring threat and push Minor’s pitch count into the mid-20s. But Austin Nola’s eight-pitch battle and hard-hit ground ball ended up in the glove of third baseman Isiah Kiner-Falefa for the third out of the inning.
Seattle threatened against Minor in the third inning with Tim Lopes working a leadoff walk and Dylan Moore drawing a one-out walk. But Minor retired Seattle’s two best hitters – the Kyles – striking out Lewis and getting Seager to pop out to shortstop.
“We had Minor on the ropes a couple of times there early in the ballgame,” Servais said. “We couldn’t get the big hit to push across the runs.”
Seattle’s two runs came in the fifth inning against reliever Nick Goody. J.P. Crawford drove in Dee Gordon with a run-scoring single and the Mariners scored another run on a throwing error by Elvis Andrus.
Rangers reliever Joely Rodriguez quieted any rally hopes for the Mariners. The left-hander entered in the sixth and threw two dominant and scoreless innings.
“When he came in, he really calmed things down for them,” Servais said.
The runs needed to be scored before that.
“I thought our at-bats were really good early in the ballgame,” Servais said. “We didn’t get the big hit. But we did run up the pitch count. The at-bats were really good and we did a nice job controlling the zone. We just didn’t get that one big double or big hit to kind of get us on the board early on.”
Editor’s note: The Times declined to send reporter Ryan Divish to Arlington, Texas for this game because of COVID-19 safety concerns.