For the first time since he took over the Mariners’ closer role, Tom Wilhelmsen couldn’t close out a save opportunity.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The run of good baseball that the Mariners had been playing of late was significantly influenced by a bullpen that looked more like the 2014 version and much less like the 2015 version.
But the late-inning failures of April, May and June were relived on Wednesday night at Kauffman Stadium in a 4-3 walkoff loss to the Royals in the 10th inning.
For the first time since he took over the closer’s role, Tom Wilhelmsen couldn’t close out a save opportunity.
Given a 3-2 lead, Wilhelmsen allowed one-out singles to Lorenzo Cain and Eric Hosmer and then walked Kendrys Morales to load the bases. The Royals tied the score on Jarrod Dyson’s sac fly to deep right field. Wilhelmsen was able to keep the game there and send it into extra innings.
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“Couple of base hits in a row with some good baserunning followed by some walks is not a good recipe,” Wilhelmsen said. “I made some decent pitches just not decent enough.”
After the Mariners were shut down in the top of the 10th by newly-named Royals’ closer Wade Davis, Seattle’s young remaining relievers couldn’t match the scoreless frame in the bottom of the inning.
With one out, David Rollins gave up a single to Alex Gordon and hit Ben Zobrist with a pitch to start the problems. Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon went to right-hander Tony Zych to face the right-handed hitting Cain. Zych threw a 1-0 slider away and Cain was able to line it into right field, allowing pinch runner Paulo Orlando to score from second just ahead of Seth Smith’s throw home.
“It was a good pitch down away and he put a good swing on it,” Zych said. “I wasn’t going to throw a heater over the middle to him.”
It was the 22nd time Seattle had played in extra innings this season — a club record. The Mariners are 10-12 in those games. But it was their 11th walkoff loss of the season.
“It’s tough, but you move on and turn the page,” McClendon said.
Robinson Cano reached a personal milestone, notching his 2,000th career hit on a single to left in the eighth inning.
“It was good but it would have been better if we ended up winning,” he said. “It’s something I will never forget. You dream of this day, but losing is not fun.”
Cano is the 14th player in MLB history with 2,000 hits in his first 11 seasons.
Seattle scored all of its runs in the fifth inning off Royals’ starter Yordano Ventura.
Ventura had cruised through the first four innings, allowing just two hits — a pair of singles to Ketel Marte.
Seattle broke though in the fifth. With one out, Mark Trumbo bounced a single up the middle and Brad Miller reached on a swinging bunt single. Jesus Sucre had a productive soft ground out to shortstop, allowing both runners to move up a base and avoiding the double play. It brought Marte to the plate.
After working a 2-0 count, Marte looked for a fastball and got it. He jumped on a 97 mph heater, lacing it into the right-center gap for a triple, allowing both runners to score easily.
“I was looking for that pitch,” Marte said.
The Mariners added another run in the inning when Nelson Cruz dropped a single into left-center that allowed Marte to trot home to make it 3-1.
Making his first start since Sept. 12, Roenis Elias wasn’t efficient, but effective. He worked 5 1/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits with four walks and six strikeouts.