Seattle and specifically Steve Cishek had the Rangers down to their final strike and on the verge of quick and tidy victory before slumping Prince Fielder tied the score with a homer.
One strike away from victory and a series win, the Mariners watched their potential triumph disappear in a baseball vapor trail into the right-field stands in the top of the ninth.
Two innings later, any hopes of somehow salvaging a victory were dissipated by another rocket to right.
Two pitches, two solo home runs and unfinished scoring opportunities resulted in a 2-1 defeat in 11 innings for the Mariners against the Rangers — the team they’re chasing in the American League West.
Texas @ Mariners, 1:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
All losses hurt, but the latest defeat against a division rival stung just a little more.
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“Yeah, it really does,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said quietly. “It was a well-played game and a well-pitched game. They’re tough when you get that close in the end. We had a chance, but we’ll come out and compete our tail off tomorrow and win the series and build from there.”
It’s been difficult building anything against Texas since taking two of three to open the season. Seattle is 2-6 in the past eight games against the Rangers.
Seattle, and specifically Steve Cishek, had the Rangers down to their final strike in what looked like was going to be a quick and tidy 1-0 victory. The Mariners’ closer had picked up two quick outs and faced the slumping Prince Fielder, who had been dropped to sixth in the batting order.
After falling behind 3-0, Cishek came back to run the count full, but he left a 3-2 sinker over the inner half that Fielder launched deep for just his fifth homer of the season. The solo shot tied the game. Cishek crouched on the mound in disbelief.
“With (Elvis) Andrus on deck, I was just trying to be careful with him,” Cishek said. “On 3-1, I got away with one. I threw a sinker and I think it was right down the middle and he fouled it straight back. But I threw a really good backdoor slider to get back in the count. And I still didn’t need to throw a strike. I knew that.”
With the right-handed Andrus on deck, Cishek’s plan was to get the left-handed hitting Fielder to chase on 3-2. Cishek wasn’t worried about putting the tying run on base with a walk.
“So be it,” Cishek said. “I will take my chances with Andrus. I know Prince has been struggling a little this year. But he also has good power. I just got a little arrogant in trying to stick one in there on him, and it cost us the game.”
Well, it was more than that that cost the Mariners the game. It was still tied until the first pitch of the top of the 11th. Rougned Odor ambushed lefty Mike Montgomery for the go-ahead home run.
“It wasn’t maybe the best pitch,” Montgomery said. “But it wasn’t a terrible pitch. I was trying to get ahead. Fastball away and he was swinging early and got to it.”
While Cishek looked to shoulder much of the blame, the Mariners still mustered only one run on the night. In the ninth and 10th, they had the winning run on base both innings and couldn’t score. In the 11th, they had the tying and winning runs on base and left them there.
“We didn’t do much offensively tonight,” Servais said. “We were hoping it would be enough. We didn’t get the big hit. We certainly had chances late.”
On a night when many Mariners fans in the area and in South Korea were clamoring for the team to eschew the platoon at first base and play Dae-Ho Lee (who hit two homers Friday) despite right-hander Colby Lewis being on the mound, Servais stayed with Adam Lind and their plan.
He was rewarded. Lind provided all of the Mariners’ offense against Lewis. With one out in the fifth, Lind sat on a 0-1 changeup, driving it over the wall in left-center for a solo homer. It was his eighth of the season.