It seemed all too familiar, and that’s the problem. The Mariners got another perfectly good outing from a starting pitcher, but wasted it because their offense couldn’t cash in. Roenis Elias pitched eight innings and gave up two runs, but he still picked up the loss in the Mariners’ 2-1 loss on Thursday to the...
Second baseman Robinson Cano had the Mariners’ biggest hit — and also their biggest blunder.
In the fifth inning of the Mariners’ 2-1 loss Thursday to the Tampa Bay Rays, the sixth straight loss for the Mariners, Cano drove in Seattle’s only run with a single. But as Cano took his lead off first base, he was looking away from Tampa pitcher and former Mariner Erasmo Ramirez. Ramirez pounced with a quick pickoff move to first, gunning Cano down as he dove back to the bag. It killed the Mariners’ rally, and, worse, it happened with a runner on third and with Nelson Cruz at the plate with just one out.
“It was a great pickoff,” Cano said. “He was really quick. He got me when I was crossing my feet.”
Cano admitted Ramirez’s move surprised him, but he said his mind didn’t wander. “No, I was just leaving the bag right then, and I crossed my feet when I was trying to go back,” he said. “It was too late.”
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It wasn’t the Mariners’ only opportunity but it felt significant, especially in hindsight. The Mariners’ most threatening chance was torpedoed with the middle of their order about to hit, and Cano agreed with the word choice of torpedoed.
“I would say yes,” he said, before adding later, “Something can always happen in that situation.”
Instead, Cruz walked and Kyle Seager grounded out to end the inning, stranding runners on first and third.
It marked the second straight game in which the Mariners got eight solid innings from their starting pitcher and still lost, and they fell to 24-30.
Perhaps most fitting was the way it ended. Mike Zunino led off the ninth inning with a walk, and Dustin Ackley advanced pinch-runner Willie Bloomquist to second with a sacrifice bunt.
But Austin Jackson and Cano struck out to end the game — the final of 10 runners the Mariners stranded on base.
The Mariners haven’t scored more than three runs in nine games and are 1-7 on this homestand.
“I say this truly: I believe that we’re going to bust out, and we’re going to score a lot of runs,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Tonight is one of those nights where it leaves you scratching your head.”
Even more so because it wasted yet another perfectly good outing from a Seattle starting pitcher. This time it was Roenis Elias, who went eight innings and gave up two runs on just five hits. He struck out six, made his longest start of the season and lowered his ERA to 2.94.
His only problems surfaced in the fourth inning. He gave up a leadoff single and then hit a batter. The Rays pulled off a double steal to advance those runners to second and third with one out, and both eventually scored.
The Rays stole three bases in the first four innings off Elias, and McClendon said that was the one flaw in Elias’ outing.
“That’s something we’ve got to work on, and he knows better,” McClendon said. “You have to vary your looks, and he didn’t do the things fundamentally that we asked him to do on that part of his game.”
Elias said he was focused on the batters and getting ahead in the count.
“I just wanted to focus on making my pitches,” Elias said.
And yet two runs proved to be too much for the Mariners to overcome.
“We’ve pitched extremely well, and it’s frustrating to not take advantage of that,” McClendon said. “But having said that, you’ve got to stay the course.”