Giving up five runs in one inning isn’t a guarantee for defeat, but it usually won’t allow you to win many games. And giving up five runs in one inning not once, but twice in the same game … well, victory shouldn’t even be a consideration.
On a Monday evening when the Mariners blasted enough homers and scored enough runs to overcome a brief and injury-shortened start from rookie right-hander Justin Dunn that included allowing five runs in the second inning, their much-maligned bullpen continued to find new and painful ways to disappoint, giving up a five runs in the seventh inning to turn a two-run lead into an 11-9 loss to the Dodgers.
Then again, when you ask the worst bullpen in all of baseball to cover the final seven innings of a game while trying to protect a lead against a dangerous Dodgers lineup, there should be minimal expectation that it comes to fruition. That’s asking too many inconsistent pitchers to all be good at the same time.
“You are up against it when your starter comes out early like that,” manager Scott Servais said. “You are kind of hoping to piece it all together, but it’s unfortunate we weren’t able to get through the seventh.”
This time the onus fell on right-hander Matt Magill. He came into the game as one of Seattle’s best performing relievers with a 0.00 ERA in eight appearances and just two hits allowed in eight innings pitched. Asked to protect an 8-6 lead, Magill started the seventh inning and never finished, recording just two outs while allowing five runs on four hits and two walks.
To be fair to Magill, the Mariners failed to covert two difficult but makeable plays in the field that contributed to the problems. J.P. Crawford couldn’t quite glove Corey Seager’s hard ground ball that went for a leadoff single. And Shed Long had a pop fly in foul territory hit off the end of his glove. Instead of two outs, the Dodgers loaded the bases with no outs.
A.J.Pollock cut the lead to one run with a single through the left side and Max Muncy worked a walk to force in a run to tie the score at 8-8.
“He’d been really consistent with that slider and curveball,” Servais said. “They were really grinding through some at-bats. Give those guys credit, they laid off some tough pitches. I thought he competed really well. Sometimes the other club has your number.”
The Dodgers took the lead on Joc Pederson’s bases-loaded double play up the middle that allowed a run to score. Enrique Hernandez provided some needed insurance runs and ended Magill’s outing with a two-run homer to left to make it 11-8.
The bullpen meltdown overshadowed an outstanding night from Evan White, who had his first multi-homer game of his career, with a two-run homer and a solo homer, and the Kyles — Lewis and Seager, who combined for six hits, two homers, four runs scored and four runs driven in.
“Can’t say enough about the effort from our guys and the competitive nature we had tonight and some awesome things offensively,” Servais said. “We’ve got some young guys continuing to grow.”
The Mariners gave Dunn a 2-0 lead before he stepped on the mound thanks to consecutive singles from Lewis, Seager and Austin Nola off Ross Stripling and an error by Pollock in the outfield.
Dunn’s first start in hallowed Dodger Stadium came without fans or much enjoyment and it was brief. His second pitch — a change-up — was crushed by Mookie Betts into the left-field seats. Dunn’s fourth pitch of the outing — a 91-mph fastball to Corey Seager — was turned into a 100 mph line drive that he couldn’t catch immediately or avoid. The ball struck Dunn in the ribs, but he was still able to catch the ball.
It left Dunn in obvious discomfort. After a few words with Servais and athletic trainer Rob Nodine and some practice pitches, he remained in the game and even worked out of the inning. But the second inning brought a different kind of pain to Dunn as the Dodgers hung five runs on him in the frame, capped by a three-run homer from Corey Seager that turned Dunn’s 2-1 lead into a 6-2 deficit.
Seattle answered with a five-run top of the third inning, highlighted by the back-to-back homers from Lewis and Kyle Seager, and White’s two-run homer.
Seeing Dunn’s ineffectiveness, Servais pulled him and went to the bullpen.
Dunn didn’t have any fracture, but just a painful contusion.
“They are sore, very sore,” he said.
Did the soreness affect him?
“I definitely couldn’t finish my breaking ball or finish my pitches as well as I would like to,” he said. “It definitely took the slider out of play. That’s the only pitch I felt it on. When the adrenaline wore away in the second, I could feel it more.”
Trying to pitch against the Dodgers without his slider — his best pitch — wasn’t ideal. He was thankful to see the offense overcome the deficit he created.
“I was so happy to see that,” he said. “In a way, I wish I would’ve come out after the first and not tried to be a hero and go back out in the second. I think we probably come away with a W.”
Dunn expects to make his next start, and said he had no doubts that he’ll be ready to go Sunday.