The Mariners were probably due for a clunker at some point. The visiting Angels won, 7-4 at Safeco Field.
The end of the Mariners’ longest win streak in 2018 didn’t feature a late-inning collapse, a midgame meltdown or even Mike Trout doing Mike Trout things to beat them, though he did register his first hit in the series and was intentionally walked twice.
No, Seattle’s 7-4 loss to the Angels was a product of simply not playing at a level that helped them establish the streak. It’s a level of execution that is critical to their success.
And after eight consecutive wins, they were probably due for a defeat at some point. Though it wasn’t exactly what the crowd of 39,518 that filled Safeco Field on a less-than-sunny Fourth of July wanted or expected.
L.A. Angels @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT
“It does happen once in a while,” M’s manager Scott Servais said. “We competed our tail off. We’ll continue to do that. That’s why we are in the position we are in.”
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Instead, the Mariners (55-32) will try to start a new streak Thursday evening when they wrap up the series with the Angels.
“The goal is to win the series and we have an opportunity to do it tomorrow,” Servais said.
As for the loss, here are the key factors:
• Starter Mike Leake gave Seattle his shortest outing since April, pitching just four innings and giving up four runs (three earned) on nine hits.
• The Mariners’ middle relievers gave up three runs after Leake left the game and couldn’t keep the deficit easily manageable for a comeback.
• The defense committed two errors and wasn’t as crisp as in past games, just falling short on couple of game-changing plays that would’ve prevented Angels runs.
• Seattle hitters couldn’t register the big hit late in the game, striking out seven times with runners in scoring position in the final three innings. The Mariners struck out a total of 15 times in the game, went 2 for 12 with runners in scoring position and left eight runners on base.
And yet, with all those things happening, the Mariners still had more than one opportunity to rally for a win late in the game.
“We had a lot of chances in that game,” Servais said. “We grinded out at-bats, we were right there — one hit away.”
In the bottom of the ninth, Mike Zunino led off with a single and Denard Span doubled. Seattle brought the tying run to the plate three times. But Dee Gordon lined out to shallow center. Jean Segura hit a ground ball to first and Zunino was thrown out at the plate. Mitch Haniger’s ground ball to third ended their victory hopes and the game.
But that wasn’t the only opportunity.
“The seventh, we had the bases loaded nobody out, we get the first two guys on in the eighth and the first two guys on in the ninth and we only get one run out of all that,” Servais said. “It does happen. Give those guys (the Angels) credit, they made some plays and made some pitches to get out of a jam.”
If Segura’s line drive to right-center with the bases loaded isn’t gloved on a brilliant leaping grab by David Fletcher in the bottom of the seventh, the Mariners have the eighth and ninth innings to overcome a one-run deficit, not three runs, to get that ninth straight win.
“Fletcher made a great play on that one,” Servais said.
The abundance of opportunities, not the failure to execute, left Servais optimistic.
Also still being 23 games over .500 helps the positivity.
“We have a really good thing going here,” Servais said. “Guys were disappointed that we didn’t come back and get the big hit to win the ballgame or tie it up somehow. But if we keep doing that, I like our chances.”
Leake retired the first five batters of the game, but a catcher’s interference by Chris Herrmann on a swing by Shohei Ohtani interrupted that run of outs and resulted in a run when Luis Valbuena hit a shift-beating double to left field.
The Mariners answered the Angels in the bottom half of the inning with back-to-back solo homers from Kyle Seager and Ryon Healy — the first time Seattle has hit back-to-back homers in a game this season.
But Leake couldn’t hold the lead. He gave up a pair of RBI singles in the fourth inning. He was removed in the fifth inning after giving up hits to the first three batters of the inning, allowing another run to score to make it 4-2.
“I didn’t have my best stuff today,” Leake admitted.
He had made eight straight starts of six innings pitched or more coming into the game.
“They were battling me and fouling balls off,” Leake said. “They found some holes, and that’s about it.”
A two-run deficit is very workable for a Mariners team that has had a season filled with comeback victories. But reliever Nick Rumbelow served up a two-run homer to Kole Calhoun in the top of the sixth to make it that much more difficult.
Nelson Cruz trimmed the lead to 6-3 on an RBI single in the sixth, but the Mariners gave the run right back in the eighth. A miscommunication on Calhoun’s one-out blooper to right and an error by Segura on a sure double-play ball led to the unearned run being scored off Nick Vincent.
|AL West standingsThe Mariners are in a duel with Houston at the top of the division.Team