DETROIT – The Mariners’ run of “dominance” over the worst team in baseball ended Wednesday night at Comerica Park with their best pitcher on the mound.
Marco Gonzales went into the game looking for his team-leading 13th victory, which would’ve matched his career-high total from a season ago, and gave the Mariners a respectable outing in the end.
But Seattle’s offense, which scored 11 runs and bashed five homers in the series opener, didn’t do enough to reward Gonzales for his perseverance in a 3-2 loss to the Tigers.
It was the Mariners’ first loss to Detroit this season after winning the previous five games. It was Detroit’s fourth win its last 13 games to “improve” to 36-81, while Seattle has lost nine of its last 11 games and fell to 49-72. The Mariners have the fifth-worst record in all of baseball.
Gonzales pitches six innings, allowing three runs on 11 hits with a walk and six strikeouts to fall to 12-6.
“Marco managed the game,” manager Scott Servais said. “He did really a good job. They weren’t killing the ball off him, but they found some holes and they put a lot of traffic out there. He still gave us a chance.”
And his team’s offense?
“Didn’t see much from our offense tonight,” Servais said. “We just consistently haven’t been able to put any rallies together.”
Prior to last night’s outburst, the Mariners had averaged 2.1 runs in the previous eight games with a team slash line of .166/.242/.279.
To be fair, those struggles came against the Astros, Padres and Rays — teams with solid pitching. The Tigers aren’t in that category.
“It’s not for lack of work or lack of want,” said M’s first baseman Daniel Vogelbach. “Sometimes it’s tough when you see bunches of it like last night and it’s a huge game and you come back tonight and you can’t get that big hit.”
Trouble found Gonzales immediately in the second inning, the Tigers loading the bases with three consecutive singles. When he struck out Jake Rogers and got Jordy Mercer to pop out in foul territory, it looked as though he’d pull an escape act. But Victor Reyes took a 2-2 inside fastball just off his hands and muscled it into center to score a pair of runs to give Detroit a 2-0 lead.
“I thought we had him,” Gonzales said. “Would’ve liked to get out of that inning. Hats off to him, when you are going good, stuff like that falls. I thought I made a good pitch. Eight out of 10 times that’s a broken bat or a ground ball.”
The Tigers pushed the lead to 3-0 an inning later on Harold Castro’s two-out single to right that scored Niko Goodrum from second base.
Seattle chipped away at the lead with a pair of solo homers off of Tigers starter Edwin Jackson.
J.P. Crawford, who has been scuffling at the plate, yanked a solo homer into the right-field seats with one out in the fourth inning. His last homer came on July 4, and since that at-bat, he’d been batting .165 (17 for 103) with an on-base plus slugging percentage right around .500.
An inning later, Vogelbach clubbed his 27th homer of the season, launching a towering fly ball over the wall in deep right-center that made it 3-2. The tying run never came.
In the sixth inning, the Mariners loaded the bases with two outs off lefty Gregory Soto, bringing Vogelbach to the plate. But he struck out swinging to end the inning, firing his bat in disgust. Vogelbach is now 16 for 97 (.165) off lefties this season with four doubles, five homers and 30 strikeouts.
“I come up and don’t get the job done with two outs,” Vogelbach said. “It’s a new day tomorrow, and I’m fighting to make sure the next day is going to be the day that it turns.”
The Mariners squandered another opportunity to tie the game in the seventh inning. With two outs, Keon Broxton and Mallex Smith singled to put Broxton – the tying run – on second base.
Detroit brought in right-hander Buck Farmer to face Crawford and end the inning. But it was Smith who ended it prematurely. Farmer fell behind 2-0 to Crawford and then fired ball three to catcher Jake Rogers, who immediately fired to first to easily pick off a napping Smith. So instead of Crawford having a 3-0 count with the tying run on second, the inning was over. It was a costly mistake by Smith.
“It’s game awareness,” Servais said. “You have to understand where you are at in the game, what the situation is, what the scoreboard says and things like that. Certainly he had nowhere to go. Give them credit, they executed the play. They were looking for it and we gave them that opportunity and they’ve taken advantage of it.”