The Mariners fell to the Rangers, 6-4, on Sunday and head on a 10-game trip five games behind Texas in the AL West. Robinson Cano said his shin guard slipped and he got caught in between first and second to end the game.
In the time it takes for a throw to roar from the right-field corner to second base, the Mariners went from facing momentum and hope to a question: What just happened?
Second baseman Robinson Cano was thrown out at second base on what looked, upon contact, to be a for-sure double. That will be the talking point from the Mariners’ 6-4 loss to the first-place Texas Rangers, a loss that dropped Seattle five games back in the American League West.
Down three with two outs, Cano hit an RBI line drive into the right-field corner, cutting the deficit to two. But Cano was thrown out at second, and if it looked like he hesitated after rounding first, he had an explanation.
“I stepped on my shin guard halfway (to second) so I had to slow down,” he said. “If you watch the video, I step on it like three times. I had to slow down because I didn’t want to roll my ankle or anything bad to happen. It’s not a situation that you want to end the game.”
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That’s the way Mariners manager Scott Servais explained the play, too.
“The guy made a nice throw,” Servais said. “The ball comes off the wall back to him, and he puts the ball right there on the bag. Looking at it, it looked like Robbie’s leg guard or whatever flapped, broke off. It was just a weird play.”
More crushing, Cano’s out stranded Nelson Cruz and his 15 home runs in the on-deck circle. He never got the chance to tie the score with one swing, or at least extend the rally attempt.
“Disappointing,” Servais said. “I would have liked to see Nellie get a shot up there.”
Cano said he felt the shin guard he wears on his right leg slip while running to second. On the video replay, you can see the part of his shin guard intended to cover his foot loosely flapping in the dirt. Cano said by the time he felt the shin guard, he was in no man’s land between first and second.
It was a strange end to what was ultimately a “disappointing series,” as Servais put it. The Mariners continued their struggles against the Rangers, the team they’re chasing in the standings.
Since winning two of three games against Texas to start the season, the Mariners (34-29) have lost seven of their past nine against the Rangers (39-24).
“A lot of games left to be played,” Servais said. “This division is far from settled. I think everybody knows that.”
Mariners starter Wade Miley struggled to locate his fastball. He walked three and had two wild pitches in five innings, but was largely able to escape trouble until the fourth inning.
He had two outs in the fourth but allowed a double and then a two-run home run that gave the Rangers a 3-0 lead.
“Wade Miley was not on top of his game,” Servais said, “and he’d be the first to admit it.”
In the sixth inning, Mariners reliever Steve Johnson faced only three batters and gave up a hit, two walks and, ultimately, three runs, blowing the game open.
“If we could have kept them at three (runs),” Servais said, “I still liked our chances.”
The Mariners had only four hits in seven innings against Rangers starter Cole Hamels, who picked up his 2,000th career strikeout. But they rallied for two runs in the eighth inning, although they could have squeezed more out having the bases loaded with one out.
In the ninth inning, Cano drove in shortstop Ketel Marte with his liner into the corner to cut the deficit to 6-4. But that’s also where the game ended as Rangers right fielder Nomar Mazara placed his throw right at second base to get Cano.
Cano explained one of the lessons from this series.
“When we were winning games, we were scoring from the first inning,” Cano said. “We got guys on base and we scored a lot of runs. We’ve got to go back to that team that we were when we got guys on base early in the game. That’s what happened. You take lessons from that and move on.”