The Mariners are 3-7, their worst record through the first 10 games of the season since they also opened the 2011 season 3-7.
Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon playfully smiled when he looked around the room before Friday’s game and said, “What do you want to talk about, the world coming to an end or what?”
And indeed, the world, so far as we know, is not coming to an end. But the Mariners followed McClendon’s calls for patience with a 3-1 loss to the Rangers in front of 36,606 people Friday night.
The Mariners are 3-7, their worst record through the first 10 games of a season since they also opened the 2011 season 3-7.
Mariners vs. Astros, 6:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
“One thing I expressed to them is you’ve got to continue to grind it out,” McClendon said. “There are going to be good moments, bad moments, tough moments, moments that want to make your manager cry. But (you) have to fight your way through it.”
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The Mariners gave themselves a shot by manufacturing a run in the eighth inning to make it a one-run game.
Then it slipped away.
It started with reliever Dominic Leone, who walked the first batter of the ninth inning. It continued with a double play that was eventually overturned after a review, leaving a runner on first.
It got worse when a wild pitch from Leone advanced the runner to second and was compounded when catcher Mike Zunino sailed his throw to second into center field, advancing the runner to third. (“Rushed his throw a little bit,” McClendon said. “I think if he makes a good throw, he’s probably out.”)
And, finally, Adam Rosales’ ground ball bounced off third base, popping into the air and scoring a run to give the Rangers a 3-1 cushion.
Logan Morrison hit a fly ball in the ninth inning as far as he could hit one without it leaving the park. It was that kind of night — hard hit balls for outs.
“There will be better days,” McClendon said. “I think offensively we’re a much better club than we were last year. Right now, guys are trying to find their groove a little bit, but I think it will come and I think it will come fast.”
Brad Miller led off the eighth inning with a double, snapping a streak of 18 plate appearances without a hit. He advanced to third on a fly ball from Austin Jackson, then scored on a sacrifice fly from Seth Smith.
Nelson Cruz smacked a towering fly ball later in the inning that sent gasps through the crowd, but instead of a home run it was an out to end the inning.
“I just missed it,” said Cruz, who had homered in five straight games.
The shame of it all is that the Mariners wasted another good outing from pitcher J.A. Happ.
Happ walked the first batter of the game, then gave up a double to Prince Fielder that put the Mariners in an early hole. And he gave up a solo homer to Robinson Chirinos to start the fifth inning.
But those were the only blemishes, and he pitched well enough to keep his team in the game, no matter how much the offense stalled.
Happ allowed five hits in seven innings and walked two batters. It was only the second time this season that a Mariners starter had gone at least seven innings in a game, and the first since Felix Hernandez on opening day.
“He was outstanding,” McClendon said.
The Mariners squandered their few chances.
There was the third inning, when the Mariners loaded the bases with one out … and Seth Smith grounded into a double play.
Or there was the seventh inning, when the Mariners put on their first two base runners on only to watch the threat disappear after strikeouts from Dustin Ackley and Zunino.
“You’ve got to keep your head up,” Cruz said.