It all happened with two outs, and it all happened rather quickly in the Mariners’ sloppy 6-4 loss in San Diego.
Things had started out well enough Saturday for the Mariners and left-hander Justus Sheffield, who was effective through his first four innings.
Sheffield, playing in a National League park for the first time this season, even collected his first major-league hit on a solidly hit line-drive single in the second inning — a memory to cherish, for certain.
The rest of the game — and the rest of the week, for that matter — the Mariners will want to forget.
Sheffield deserved better than what followed in the Mariners’ fifth consecutive loss.
With the score tied 1-1 entering the bottom of the fifth, the Padres (29-17) took control with five runs on four hits, one walk and two steals against Sheffield — an inning that also included three Mariners errors.
One head-scratching sequence typified the kind of week the M’s had.
With two outs, the Mariners elected to intentionally walk Fernando Tatis Jr. to load the bases — and there is no second-guessing necessary there, with Tatis among the hottest hitters in baseball. That set up a lefty-lefty showdown for Sheffield against the Padres’ veteran first baseman, Eric Hosmer.
It backfired on the Mariners (21-25).
On a 2-2 pitch, Hosmer laced a two-seam fastball the other way to left field for a solid single. That scored two runs to give the Padres a 4-1 lead.
“I had a chance to get out of it right there,” Sheffield said, “but just misplaced the two-seam … and that crushed the out and blew up the game right there.”
Sheffield had thrown four straight sliders — his best pitch — to Hosmer, who fouled off two of them and took the other two for balls. With his sixth pitch of the at-bat, Sheffield wanted to hit in the inside corner with his two-seam fastball. Instead, he missed over the middle of the plate.
“I know I could have got out of (the jam), and I should have got out of it,” Sheffield said. “I know that I can get out of that, which is so frustrating. I’m going to be beating myself up tonight, all night, just because of that one pitch.”
To make matters worse, after Hosmer’s hit, the throw home from rookie left fielder Jarred Kelenic pulled catcher Tom Murphy up the third-base line — and then the ball skipped through Murphy’s legs as he attempted to block it.
That allowed the hustling Tatis to slide home (after running all the way from first) for the third run on the sequence, and the throw from Murphy to Sheffield at the plate got away from the pitcher, which then allowed Hosmer to move over to third.
Errors were charged to Murphy and Sheffield on the sequence. Murphy’s throwing error to third on a stolen base had allowed the first run of the inning to score.
On the first pitch after the bases-loaded debacle, ex-Mariner Austin Nola hit a solid single off Sheffield to score Hosmer and extend the Padres’ lead to 6-1.
Sheffield’s final line: six runs (five earned) on seven hits with five walks and three strikeouts.
“Sheff really competed his tail off tonight,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “… I don’t fault Sheff’s performance at all tonight.”
The Mariners are a tough team to watch at the moment. Their offensive woes have been well-chronicled, and injuries are taking a toll — which is why they certainly can’t afford the kind of defensive lapses that happened in the fifth inning.
Through two games, the Padres have outscored the Mariners 22-5 — and San Diego is set to throw ace Yu Darvish in the series finale Sunday.
Mitch Haniger’s strong comeback season continued for the Mariners. He hit his 13th home run in the third inning off Padres rookie starter Ryan Weathers, on a high fastball he pulled well over the wall in left-center.
The Mariners were able to score two runs in the ninth inning, and brought the potential tying run to the plate against Padres closer Mark Melancon — who promptly struck out Kyle Lewis on three pitches to end it.
Still, Servais was generally encouraged after the game, and he said he’s tried to remain positive with his team through a trying week.
“You know, we’re in a tough spot — understanding we’re a little banged up injury-wise right now,” he said. “And eventually we will start getting some of those players back in the lineup, and (they’ll get past) everything that happened here over the last couple days with the COVID issue.
“But I thought coming in the clubhouse today, the mood was very good; guys are out early getting their work, understanding our young players are still working through some things and making some adjustments. We’ve got to stay upbeat; we have a long season ahead of us. We really do. And we’re learning a lot about our team as we go along. … Our guys are grinding. They’re working hard. We’re going to keep building going forward. It’ll turn.”