The Mariners dropped to 43-52 on the season and haven’t won back-to-back games since July 1.
DETROIT – The Mariners’ quest to win back-to-back games encountered a minor impediment along the way on Wednesday night.
It’s funny how an eight-run inning can sidetrack a team’s chances of winning.
Starter Mike Montgomery suffered through the worst outing of his brief big-league career, which included the interminable eight-run third inning. That fiasco of free bases, fielding mistakes and a grand slam extinguished any real possibilities of victory early in a 9-4 loss to the Tigers.
Mariners @ Detroit, 10:08 a.m., ROOT Sports
The Mariners dropped to 43-52 on the season and still haven’t won back-to-back games since June 30-July 1.
Montgomery didn’t have pinpoint command and found trouble because of it from the very beginning. In the first and second inning, the Tigers put runners on first and second with one out thanks to doubles and walks. But he managed to work out of both jams without allowing a run.
He would have no such luck in the third inning. And his teammates didn’t do much to help him, either.
Montgomery walked Rajai Davis to start the inning — never a good thing — particularly when you are up 1-2 in the count.
“I got ahead, I felt really good and I walk the leadoff guy,” Montgomery said. “Those are the little things that really come back to bite you.”
With Davis on first, Ian Kinsler decided to drop down a drag-bunt attempt. Kyle Seager fielded the ball with his bare hand, but his throw to first was high and wide of the bag. Instead of coming off the bag to catch the ball, first baseman Mark Trumbo tried to keep his foot on the bag and make the catch. He couldn’t. The ball bounced into foul territory and Davis scored from first.
“I didn’t make a very good throw there,” Seager said. “I had a good grip on it. I just threw it up the line a little.”
It continued to snowball. Montgomery walked Yoenis Cespedes for the second time in the game. Before Montgomery could get Victor Martinez to pop out to second for the first out of the inning, catcher Mike Zunino mishandled a fastball that went for a passed ball, allowing both runners to move up a bag into scoring position. It loomed large.
It forced manager Lloyd McClendon to intentionally walk All-Star outfielder J.D. Martinez, who had homered on Tuesday night and has 27 of them this season, with first base open. They didn’t stay loaded for long. Montgomery fell behind 2-0 and gutted a 90 mph fastball to Nick Castellanos that was crushed well over the wall in left-center field for a grand slam to make it 5-0.
“I fell behind, and I had to come in the zone and he knew it,” Montgomery said. “He’s been hitting really well lately. That’s what happens. That’s why you have to get ahead of guys.”
Castellanos is batting .500 with four homers and 13 RBI against the Mariners and .229 with four home runs and 30 RBI against the rest of the teams he’s faced.
Montgomery got James McCann to ground out to shortstop for the second out of the inning. But he’d never get the third out — though he should have. Jefry Marte legged out an infield hit and Jose Iglesias doubled him home to push it to 6-0. Montgomery appeared to be out of the inning when Davis lined a ball to third, but Seager committed his second error of the inning as the ball bounced off his glove and into left field, allowing Iglesias to score and make it 7-0.
“I don’t really know what happened on it,” Seager said. “It wasn’t hit too high. … It’s a play I should have made.”
That was it for Montgomery. McClendon called on lefty David Rollins to eat up some innings. Rollins immediately served up an RBI double to Kinsler for the eighth run of the inning. The inning finally came to an end when Cespedes flew out to center.
“It all started with the two-strike walk and then the bunt and after that everything went to heck,” McClendon said. “It was tough day for (Seager), and I’m sure he’ll bounce back.”
Eight runs came across — all charged to Montgomery — with six being earned. He allowed six hits, walked five batters (one intentional) with two strikeouts. He threw 76 pitches in the outing with just 39 strikes. He’s allowed 14 earned runs in his past three starts and has fallen to 4-4 on the season.
“He just didn’t make quality pitches,” McClendon said.
Montgomery was frustrated with his execution.
“I didn’t attack in the zone enough and when I did, I let them get back into counts,” he said. “And they’re a good enough team where you can’t let them do it. It’s frustrating. I wanted to go out there and give the team a chance to win.”
Down 8-0, the Mariners tried to chip away. They got three runs back immediately in the top of the fourth. Seager doubled and Nelson Cruz followed with a towering home run to deep left field. The blast measured 437 feet per MLB Statcast. Robinson Cano followed with a single and later scored on Trumbo’s ground ball to cut it to 8-3.
Cruz cut the lead to 8-4 in the sixth inning, leading off with a solo homer to right field. It was his 24th home run of the season and the fourth time he’s hit multiple homers in a game this season.
“I’m feeling much better,” Cruz said. “It was just a matter of time that I’d find something.”