Closer Steve Cishek let up a home run in the ninth inning, putting a damper on the Mariners home opener Friday night at Safeco Field.
Just when the scars left by The Fernando Rodney Experience and his band of bad bullpen-mates from last season were starting to heal over for discontented Mariners fans, that familiar stab in the gut was felt again Friday night at Safeco Field in the home opener against the Oakland A’s.
The crowd of 47,065 spectators — the largest to see a regular-season game at the stadium — watched the scene play out like a bad rerun from 2015.
Seattle’s hopes of winning a third consecutive game and carrying the momentum from the series victory against the Rangers to the home fans ended with one misplaced sinker from closer Steve Cishek and one compact, powerful swing of Chris Coghlan’s bat that led to a 3-2 Oakland victory.
Oakland @ Mariners,6:10 p.m., ROOT
Brought in during a 2-2 game in the top of the ninth inning, Cishek gave up a one-out, solo homer to Coghlan on a missed 1-2 pitch. It was the first run allowed by the Mariners’ bullpen in 2016.
Most Read Sports Stories
- Analysis: Where will Washington land? Here are all of the Huskies' conference realignment options.
- Garfield High star Dalayah Daniels set to make impact after transferring home to UW
- Seahawks and Trail Blazers are not for sale, says team chair Jody Allen
- Pac-12 survival guide: Five forces that will define the path to salvation, or extinction
- The Pac-12 will never be the same again, and that's sad
“It was a good piece of hitting,” Cishek said. “It was too good of a pitch. I was trying to elevate it a little bit more and I didn’t get it up there. He put a good swing on it. I felt great out there, I just didn’t execute that pitch.”
The Mariners’ bullpen — a question mark coming into the season — had been on a run of 11 consecutive scoreless innings before that pitch.
“Our bullpen has been very good and I was happy with the way they threw the ball tonight, except for the one pitch got away from us,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Down a run in the bottom of the ninth, the Mariners never got a ball out of the infield against A’s reliever Ryan Madson. Chris Iannetta popped out to first base, while pinch-hitters Seth Smith and Adam Lind both struck out swinging.
The late-inning magic in Texas was nowhere to be found in the cool night air of the Puget Sound. The Mariners’ 3-4-5 hitters of Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager went 1 for 12 on the night, stranding five runners. In the eighth inning, Ketel Marte drew a leadoff walk against tough lefty Sean Doolittle. But Marte never moved from first as Cano flew out to left, Cruz had a broken-bat pop up and Seager flew out to center.
“Overall tonight, we didn’t swing the bat that well, in my opinion,” Servais said. “But it’s baseball, that’s going to happen sometimes.”
The Mariners got a decent start from Taijuan Walker. The 23-year-old right-hander wasn’t dominant, but he also handled the theatrics and the presence of a sellout crowd with aplomb. He gave his team a quality start despite not having pinpoint command with his changeup.
Walker allowed a base runner in almost every inning and was able to work out of most jams with a little help from his defense. But the A’s finally got to him in the fourth inning. With runners on first and third, Coghlan ripped a line drive to right field off the glove of a sort-of-leaping Dae-Ho Lee at first base to score a run.
Oakland pushed it to 2-0 with two outs in the fifth when Josh Reddick belted a solo homer.
The only 1-2-3 inning Walker worked came in his sixth — his last. He gave up seven hits with no walks and four strikeouts.
“For the most part I was really happy with his outing,” Servais said. “I thought he was aggressive. Deep in counts, he finished them. He won a lot of those battles. So it was a good first outing for him.’’
Lee showed he had no problems with the marine layer and supposed power problems for hitters at spacious Safeco. After looking abysmal in his first at-bat with swinging strikeout, Lee provided a jolt of energy to the murmuring crowd, launching a towering solo home run to into The ’Pen in center field to lead off the fifth inning.
“That’s a long way,” Servais said. “He crushed the ball. And also had a very good at-bat his next at-bat, which was great to see. He is a big-time player. He just hasn’t been in this country very much. The power is there. It was nice to see tonight. I’m sure it’s a huge confidence-builder for him and for everybody, everybody on our club.”
“I swung with confidence,” Lee said through interpreter D.J. Park. “I felt very happy, but our team still lost.”
The Mariners weren’t finished. Leonys Martin was hit by a pitch. Norichika Aoki singled to center, with Martin going to third. Marte then hit a sacrifice fly to center to score Martin.
Watch it again: