ARLINGTON, Texas — Given the nature of the start, it seemed as if Monday would offer another one of those lopsided, position-player pitches, empty-the-bullpen type of blowouts that the Mariners have been wearing far too many times over the past few weeks.
That early indication — allowing five runs in the first inning — didn’t quite become that familiar outcome, but the Mariners gave up one too many runs to have a chance at an improbable comeback victory in a 10-9 loss to the Rangers.
Tim Beckham’s first career grand slam in the eighth inning off Shelby Miller, and Daniel Vogelbach’s two-run homer in the ninth off Chris Martin brought the tying run to the plate with two outs. But Beckham grounded out to end the game.
“It was a good comeback by the team, but we need to win some more games, man,” Beckham said. “Losing is not fun. It’s not fun at all. I’m sure everyone else in here feels the same way. I don’t care if it’s 10-9 or 10-2, a loss is a loss. We made a good comeback, but we lost.”
Indeed it was another frustrating defeat since the team’s magical 13-2 start, which should probably stop getting mentioned since the team is 10-25 since. For the first seven innings, the game was far from competitive. The Mariners entered the eighth inning down 10-2. The Mariners scored nine runs, the most they’ve scored this season in a loss, eclipsing the previous high of eight.
“We just didn’t get enough going early in the game,” M’s manager Scott Servais said.
But scoring seven runs in the final two innings should be enough to win most games. That’s where the Mariners’ pitching is right now. Over the last 23 games, dating to the Rangers’ series at T-Mobile Park, Mariners pitchers have posted a 6.23 ERA.
It was the 11th time this season that the Mariners have allowed double-digit runs. It’s the fifth time in May, including a 15-1 trouncing and a 14-1 drubbing the previous two games versus the Rangers.
“The Rangers swing the bat, and they are very aggressive,” Servais said. “They’ve got a lot of young guys up there looking for their pitch.”
With wind gusts up to 30 mph swirling around Globe Life Park, the Rangers banged out 15 hits and clubbed five home runs. In five games versus the Mariners this season, Texas is hitting .327 with 45 runs scored, 14 doubles and 14 homers.
This season the Mariners have given up 302 runs to opponents with their pitchers being charged for 257 earned runs. Both totals are the most in baseball. The 87 homers are second most allowed.
The trouble started from the first pitch of the game for Mariners starter Mike Leake, which Shin Soo-Choo lined into left field for a single. The ball skipped past Domingo Santana for the Mariners’ 54th error, allowing Choo to advance to second. The next pitch from Leake was lined into right field by Danny Santana, allowing Choo to score from second. Two pitches, two hits, one error and a 1-0 lead for the Rangers.
“I didn’t help myself by getting balls down, and they jumped on me early and made it hard,” Leake said. “They were all aggressive, and I wasn’t quite able to beat them to the punch and they got me.”
With two outs, Leake walked massive slugger Joey Gallo and served up a three-run homer to Rougned Odor that smacked off the back wall of the upper deck in right field. Like the others, Odor jumped on the first pitch he saw from Leake.
“It was a cutter that came in, but I just didn’t get it in enough,” Leake said.
Asdrubal Cabrera followed with a solo homer to right-center that made it 5-0.
“I didn’t challenge them enough in that first inning with balls out of the strike zone,” Leake said.
Leake did eventually slow down the Rangers’ bats. He worked the next two innings scoreless, despite base runners in both innings. But it didn’t last. Cabrera led off the fourth inning with his second solo homer of the game, a fly ball over the wall in right-center, to make it 6-0 and Choo doubled home Ronald Guzman in the inning to make it 7-0.
Leake finished the night with five innings, seven runs allowed on 11 hits with a walk and four strikeouts.
“Sometimes aggressive teams give me fits,” he said. “They attack me early and sometimes it takes an inning or two to get going. Today was the day where they were there early, and I didn’t quite react quick enough.”
Down 5-0 after the first inning to any pitcher isn’t ideal, but for the Mariners it was worse since they haven’t solved the riddle that is lefty Mike Minor. But they did at least score a run off him, which is something that hadn’t happened in Minor’s previous three outings at Globe Life Park. He came into the game having thrown 24 consecutive innings at Globe Life without allowing an earned run. That total went to 29 as Minor carved up the Mariners for the first five innings.
“He had four pitches working, and he’s throwing them all out of the same tunnel (release point),” Servais said. “When you’ve got four really good pitches and he’s mixing them the way he is, it’s very effective. I say all that and he was only able to get through six and we kind of had him on the ropes there in the sixth.”
In the sixth inning with the Mariners trailing 7-0, Mitch Haniger led off with a single. Edwin Encarnacion doubled to left-center to move Haniger to third. Ryon Healy scored Haniger with a one-out sac fly to center. The Mariners picked up another run on Tim Beckham’s soft infield single to cut the lead to 7-2.
But the moderately narrowed gap in Texas’ lead was replenished against the Mariners’ patchwork bullpen. Hunter Pence hammered a two-run homer off Ryan Garton in the seventh, and his replacement Parker Markel gave up a solo homer to Joey Gallo to make it 10-2.
Those two homers proved costly considering the late rally by the Mariners in the eighth and ninth.
“No doubt,” Servais said. “In this ballpark with the wind blowing, if the ball gets in the air, it’s going to get out of here. Those runs, looking at it, you hate to give them up, and they do come back to bite you in the end when you do put nine up there.”