The ideal situation for the Mariners and president of baseball operations Jerry Dipoto would’ve been a decisive 11-2 win over the Royals on Sunday to lead into Monday’s news conference for Luis Castillo’s contract extension at T-Mobile Park.
Instead, Dipoto, watched his struggling team find a way to blow a nine-run lead by allowing 11 runs in the sixth inning in an eventual 13-12 loss.
“I’ve never seen anything quite like that, honest with you, and I’ve seen a lot of baseball over the years,” Dipoto said. “I think my dad, who was with me at the game yesterday, summarized it the best. He just said, ‘I can’t believe what I’m watching.’ And I said, ‘I’m certain that everybody feels that way and I bet the players do too.’ ”
The loss wrapped up a miserable road trip where the Mariners went 3-7 while also being forced to place third baseman Eugenio Suarez (broken index finger) and Julio Rodriguez (lower back strain) on the 10-day injured list. Seattle also had to limit the playing time of catcher Cal Raleigh, who is dealing with a nagging left thumb problem.
“We’ve taken on a little water on this last road trip,” Dipoto said. “It was a tough trip. We didn’t play well. We didn’t pitch well. We didn’t defend well, and we were banged up. We were playing without some of the highest impact players in our lineup, and we didn’t respond in the way that you hoped we would.”
Will the day off Monday allow for the team to reset and finish strong in the final 10 games while locking up a much-anticipated postseason spot? Going into Monday, Seattle (83-69) led the Orioles (79-73) by four games for the last wild-card spot while trailing the Blue Jays by 2.5 games for the top wild-card spot.
“Hopefully, now as we get home and take a breath, we get the home crowd, we get the cool air, we can get back to doing what we do,” Dipoto said. “We had four wonderful months that led us to this point, and we’re not gonna let a couple of injuries or a rough road trip take us off track. These guys will be locked in when we get back to it tomorrow.”
Dipoto expects Suarez to be activated from the injured list before Tuesday’s game to serve as the team’s designated hitter. Throwing a baseball is still not an option for him.
“We think Geno is gonna be back as early as tomorrow,” Dipoto said. “And we’ll just have to stay TBD with his defense and when he’s able to throw from third base. But minimally, we feel like he’s ready to DH.”
Rodriguez was at T-Mobile Park on Monday afternoon getting treatment on his lower back. He was in good spirits when he appeared at Castillo’s news conference.
“Julio looks great,” Dipoto said. “We have no concerns and we feel like he is going to be back after he’ll serve his 10 days. We’re trying to get him in a good position to return when he’s eligible, which will be for the first game of that final series against the Tigers.”
Raleigh’s left thumb has been an ongoing issue after a headfirst dive into first base on the previous homestand. He has tried to play through discomfort and found some success. But catching a 97-mph fastball awkwardly from Matt Brash in Sunday’s loss forced Raleigh out of the game.
“With the season dwindling down, there’s really not a lot we can do to help resolve it,” Dipoto said. “Cal is tough, and he keeps pushing to get back in there. Our take on the matter is that as long as he’s not doing anything that’s going to make the matter worse, or create a long-term issue, it’s if he can tolerate it.”
The final stretch of the season while trying to secure a postseason berth for the first time since 2001 isn’t the ideal time for these injuries to occur.
“It’s been such a tough run with late injuries and we were so fortunate for so long to not have to deal with it,” Dipoto said. “Now it’s our turn, and our turn came at a very difficult time. Hopefully, we’ve built up enough momentum in the early going that we can survive this, and I think we can.”