The Rockies made full use of Coors Field on a shirt-soaking hot Friday night in their 10-7 defeat of the Mariners.
DENVER — This is how it’s going for the Mariners as they limp to the All-Star break, looking like a team that’s gassed and in need of something different than another game with mediocre pitching and hide-and-seek hitting.
A day after watching their best starting pitcher leave the game with an injury in the first inning, the Mariners’ best setup man — lefty James Pazos — failed in a situation that seemed perfect for his success thanks to two lucky hits, triggering a four-run fifth inning. And like that … a one-run deficit turned into another multiple-run defeat.
Sure the Rockies made full use of Coors Field on a shirt-soaking hot Friday night in their 10-7 defeat of the Mariners. Much like they did at Safeco Field — a supposed pitcher-friendly park — a week ago, Colorado hitters bashed around Seattle pitchers for most of the night, totaling 14 hits, including five doubles and two homers. But erase those should-be outs in the fifth and the outcome could have been drastically different.
“It’s the way it goes when it’s not going well,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “We are sputtering here a little and we need to regroup.”
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Seattle has now lost six of its past nine games, falling to 58-37. Servais’ hope of finishing strong before the All-Star break is wilting in the July heat.
“So many games are lost in that fifth and sixth inning,” Servais said. “It has been a struggle for us recently. I am encouraged with the way we swung the bats. I thought we saw some good things offensively.”
The fifth inning is when the game’s direction veered into unwinnable territory for the Mariners. Down 4-3 with one out and Carlos Gonzalez coming to the plate, Servais pulled starter Christian Bergman and opted to go to Pazos, who came into the game sporting a 1.72 earned-run average. Pazos got the soft contact he wanted from Gonzalez. A sinking 93 mph fastball low in the zone resulted in a weak ground ball off the cap of Gonzalez’s bat.
Unfortunately, it was too weak. The ball rolled just to the third-base side of the pitcher’s mound. Pazos couldn’t make a play and Gonzalez had an infield single. Pazos came back to get the ultrahot Trevor Story to fly out. But with two outs, Gerardo Parra somehow fought off an inside fastball without shattering his bat, bouncing a soft ground ball that trickled through the left side of the infield for an RBI single and a 5-3 lead. Two balls that should have been outs were hits to prolong the inning.
“They were fortunate,” Servais said. “But that happens in this game sometimes.”
From there Pazos allowed an RBI single to Ian Desmond and another two-run single to Tony Wolters to make it 8-3.
“The fifth inning got away from us,” Servais said. “Pazos has been so good for us. It was a good pocket for him with the lefties that were coming up. He got ahead in the count, he just couldn’t put them away. That really got us behind the eight ball.”
Mike Morin replaced Pazos in the sixth inning, giving up two runs that made it 10-3. Allowing runs in the middle innings will lose any game.
When the Mariners made their run of wins early in the season, the bullpen kept them in games and made rallies possible. That hasn’t happened of late. And with an unpredictable offense that’s capable of scoring seven but just as ready to score two, that’s not going to yield success.
“It’s frustrating, but you have to keep playing,” Servais said. “In this ballpark, you are never out of it. It’s easy to put up four- or five-run innings late in the game.”
Of course, that was about the time the Mariners offense awoke from its intermittent slumber that started around the second inning after getting two in the first and one in the third.
A pair of walks to start the seventh inning got things going. Kyle Seager singled to center to score a run, Denard Span tripled into the gap in right-center to score two runs and Ben Gamel’s infield single plated Span to make it 10-7.
“With our lineup, we are never out of it,” said Gamel, who had three hits. “Everyone grinds at-bats and keeps the line moving.”
The M’s had Nelson Cruz standing in the on-deck circle in the pitcher’s spot in the order ready to do some damage as a pinch hitter, but catcher Chris Herrmann struck out to end the inning. Cruz never got an at-bat.
The Mariners would get no closer.
Adam Ottavino worked a dominant eighth for Colorado and Wade Davis notched his 26th save of the season.
Bergman, who was drafted and developed by the Rockies, struggled in his return to Denver. Two misplaced changeups resulted in a solo homer from Charlie Blackmon in the first inning and a two-run homer to Story in the third inning.
“It’s difficult,” Bergman said. “You have less room for error. I think a couple of those pitches got too much of the plate and were elevated. When they get them up in the air, those things can happen. My changeup has to be there to keep them off balance.”