Stymied by Texas starter Derek Holland and done in by a five-run third inning, the Mariners manage just four hits in an 8-0 loss to Texas.
In the optimistic and warmer days of spring training when the discussions of controlling the strike zone, improving communication, changing culture and a different brand of baseball were prevalent, the plan seemed in place for the Seattle Mariners.
But this game can destroy the most disciplined preparations and researched philosophies.
Comments like “we’ll see how they react after a five-game losing streak because every team goes through at least one” were cautionary warnings.
Texas @ Mariners, 12:40 p.m., ROOT Sports
Well, with an 8-0 loss to the Texas Rangers on Tuesday night at a frigid Safeco Field, that predicted five-game losing streak is a reality, albeit sooner than expected. Along with it came a little piece of dubious team history that a bundled-up crowd of 13,376 got to witness — no Mariners team in franchise history had ever started a season with five straight home losses.
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It’s a sub-optimal start that has Mariners fans predisposed to failure already, gnashing their teeth and their tweets in frustration.
“We have a lot of season ahead of us,” manager Scott Servais said. “We have a different team than we’ve had here in the past. I know it’s easy for fans and everybody alike to say, ‘Here we go again.’ Like I said, it’s the same team that was in Texas just a few days ago.”
How do the Mariners refind “that team?”
“There’s only a few things in this game you can really control,” Servais said. “You can control how you prepare. Are you ready to play every night? We’ve talked a lot about that. That’s on me. That’s on our coaching staff to get our guys ready to compete every night. The result? A lot of times you can’t control the result. Once you throw the pitch or once you hit the ball, whatever happens, happens. But you can control the response to the result.”
Servais has faith in his players, a largely veteran group that their response will be appropriate.
“I like the makeup of our team,” Servais said. “We do have a veteran club with guys who have been through this before. So I don’t think you’ll see a lot of panic, but they also realize we have to get things turned around here quick. We don’t want to dig ourselves too big of a hole.”
The veterans held a players-only meeting postgame. The details weren’t shared, but the message was relayed.
“Keep your head up,” Nelson Cruz said. “I don’t think the other team feels sorry for us. Go out there, be tough, handle it like a man and do what you are supposed to do. We are the ones that aren’t getting it done, so we are the ones that stepped up to say something. Just to remind the young guys that it will be OK, don’t lose focus of what we are here for.”
Seattle will try to avoid being swept for the entire homestand in Wednesday’s afternoon finale with Taijuan Walker making the start.
Any streak-snapping hopes the Mariners had on Tuesday took a serious hit in an eternal third inning that featured bad breaks and one big swing.
After two uneventful innings, Mariners starter Wade Miley ran into all sorts of trouble and into his own catcher in a five-run third inning that changed the game.
Miley gave up three straight singles — none of them hard hit — to lead to Texas’ first run. With runners on first and second with no outs, Delino DeShields dropped down a near-perfect bunt in front of the mound. Miley and catcher Chris Iannetta converged on the ball. Neither could make the play as they both went to grab it and Iannetta fell on Miley’s ankle in the attempt. It left Miley in pain and favoring his left ankle. After a visit from head athletic trainer Rick Griffin and one warm-up pitch, Miley remained in the game.
“He just stepped on my leg a little bit,” Miley said. “Before that, it was too many hits. Same thing happened in Texas. Four consecutive hits is a problem.”
He came back to strike out Nomar Mazara and get Prince Fielder to hit a sacrifice fly to make it 2-0.
But with one awkward swing on a pitch that he shouldn’t have swung at, Adrian Beltre changed the comeback hopes from workable to wistful.
Miley got up 0-2 in two pitches, but couldn’t put him away. Beltre worked the count to 2-2, fighting off a pair of pitches for foul balls. Miley’s next 2-2 pitch was a slider inside breaking toward Beltre’s back foot in hopes he would swing over it. Instead, Beltre dropped his knees and golfed the low inside pitch over the wall in left field for a three-run homer and a 5-0 lead.
“Tip your hat,” Miley said. “Bad situation. It’s not that pitch that gets me it’s the hit before and the runners on before then. He’s good. He’s been doing this a long time.”
Seattle’s offense was largely nonexistent on the night against Rangers starter Derek Holland.
The Mariners mustered just four hits with only two runners reaching second base and no runner advancing to third.