Seattle commits four errors (two by Kyle Seager), hits into five double plays and strands 10 runners in an 8-1 loss to Houston on Sunday at Safeco Field. The Mariners fell back to .500 at 46-46.
Poised to win a series from the team sitting directly ahead of them in the American League West standings and perhaps pick up some momentum following the All-Star break, the Mariners went out on Sunday and delivered what manager Scott Servais called “hands down, the worst game we played all year.”
Seattle slogged through a sloppy error-filled, strikeout-riddled, runner-stranded performance in an 8-1 drubbing by the Astros in front of a crowd of 27,322 mostly unimpressed fans.
“We played a terrible ballgame,” Servais said. “You can’t sugarcoat that. It what it is — disappointing, disheartening, whatever.”
Seattle fell to 46-46, while the Astros improved to 50-42. The Mariners are now 5-8 against the Astros this season, including 2-7 in their last nine games.
“It’s going to happen maybe once a year you play a game like that,” Servais said. “You hope it’s not against a team that’s ahead of you in the standings. Not a whole lot of positives to talk about.”
And Servais didn’t really talk about any.
“I’m disappointed as much as anything,” he said. “You can go down the list: the errors, the missed cutoff man, we don’t throw to the right base, we don’t field bunts, we drop balls, we don’t situational hit. You can go through the whole gamut today. We’re professionals and the guys know it. They’re disappointed in their effort.”
Third baseman Kyle Seager did not mince words.
“Losing sucks,” he said. “It doesn’t matter who you are necessarily playing. But it gets amplified when you are playing someone that’s obviously ahead of you in your division. That always sucks. Today was pretty bad and we’ll come back tomorrow.”
Seager had probably the roughest day, striking out three times — twice with the bases loaded — and committing two early errors.
“It definitely wasn’t a good day,” he said. “It’s probably the worst couple of innings I’ve had.”
Of Seattle’s four errors, only Seager’s first-inning error led directly to a run. Houston’s Marwin Gonzalez attempted a steal of third. Catcher Jesus Sucre delivered a solid throw that would’ve gotten Gonzalez with ease, but Seager simply missed the ball and it went into the outfield, allowing Gonzalez to trot home.
“Saw it, just missed it,” Seager said.
Offensively, the Mariners had seven hits, struck out 12 times, hit into five double plays and still stranded 10 baserunners. But even worse were the squandered opportunities with runners in scoring position that could’ve possibly overcome those mistakes early in the game.
Twice, Seattle had the bases loaded with less than two outs. Twice they stranded all three runners without scoring a run.
In the bottom of the first, Seattle loaded the bases against Astros starter Collin McHugh with back-to-back walks by Leonys Martin and Robinson Cano and a curveball off the knee of Nelson Cruz.
For a fleeting moment — the time it took for the ball to exit Kyle Seager’s bat and rocket toward the right field foul pole — the Mariners appeared to have a 4-1 lead. But Seager’s potential grand slam drifted just foul. McHugh struck him out and Dae-Ho Lee grounded out to end the inning.
That pattern re-emerged in the third inning. Seattle again loaded the bases, this time with no outs. But McHugh struck out Seager again, using an assortment of curveballs, while Lee ended the inning by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play.
Realistically, that situation shouldn’t have happened. With Robinson Cano on first and Leonys Martin on second, Nelson Cruz hammered a ball off the wall in right-center. Martin got a poor read on it and only made it to third.
“If the ball hits off the wall you should score on it,” Servais said. “He was probably too close to second base when the ball actually hit the ground.”
Though he got minimal help from his defense, Montgomery gave a decent performance. He pitched five innings, giving up four runs (three earned) on seven hits with two walks, seven strikeouts, a wild pitch and a homer allowed. Of his five innings pitched, Montgomery allowed the leadoff runner to reach four times — a first-inning walk, and leadoff doubles by Luis Valbuena in the second and two from Marwin Gonzales in the third and fifth innings.
His biggest mistake came against All-Star second baseman Jose Altuve — a Mariners’ nemesis — in the third inning. Montgomery fell behind 3-0 in the count and grooved a fastball to Altuve, who had the green light and hammered the ball into the Mariners’ bullpen for a two-run homer and 3-0 lead.
“I didn’t do a good job,” Montgomery said. “I know he’s 3-0 and he’s going to swing and I gave him a pitch to hit. I made a mistake there.”
The Mariners mustered little against McHugh, who wasn’t particularly sharp at times, but managed to be effective. The right-hander worked six scoreless innings, allowing four his with four walks, a hit batter and 10 strikeouts.
Any hope of a rally ended in Nathan Karns’ one inning of work in the seventh. Karns loaded the bases with one out for Carlos Gomez, who blistered a line drive into left field for a grand slam and an 8-0 lead.
Seattle’s lone run came in the eighth inning. After striking out in his first three at-bats and even hearing a few boos from the crowd on the third, Seager punched a single into right field off of reliever Chris Devenski to score Seth Smith.