The M’s blew a great performance from Marco Gonzales and a stirring comeback from reliever Ryan Cook, falling 3-2 to the Tigers.
One team squandered an opportunity and the other seized upon one. That was the difference Thursday night at Safeco Field.
The Mariners had a great chance to extend a one-run lead in the seventh inning and failed.
The Tigers had a chance to take the lead in the eighth and capitalized.
Detroit @ Mariners, 7:10 p.m., ROOT Sports
And with that, the Mariners blew a great starting-pitching performance from Marco Gonzales and a stirring comeback from reliever Ryan Cook, falling 3-2 to the Detroit Tigers in front of 15,169.
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The Mariner were clinging to a 2-1 lead in the bottom of the seventh, but had a great chance to score more.
After Guillermo Heredia and Ben Gamel reached base, Gordon Beckham got them to second and third with a sacrifice. But Dee Gordon, who grounded out earlier with the bases loaded, struck out. And when Jean Segura grounded out, the chance for the M’s to take a comfortable lead vanished.
“We had a chance to add on there in the seventh, in a big point of the game, but we didn’t get the runs across and it came back to hurt us,” said Mariners manager Scott Servais.
It hurt because Nick Vincent was unable to protect the Mariners’ one-run lead in the eighth. He retired two of the first three hitters but gave up a walk and a hit to load the bases. He still had a chance to get out of the inning while facing light-hitting Jose Iglesias, but a grounder just out of the reach of shortstop Segura scored a pair.
And that, as it turned out, was the ballgame. Had Vincent prevailed, the big story lines would have been Gonzales and Cook.
Gonzales had one of his best outings of the season, allowing one unearned run in 52/3 innings on five hits, a walk and a hit batter. He struck out two. It was a good rebound after allowing eight runs and 19 hits over 12 innings his last two starts.
“I thought Marco threw the ball really well, and kept them off balance,” Servais said.
Gonzales worked out of jams in the second and fifth innings and appeared to have escaped another jam in the sixth inning when, with runners at first and third with two outs, he got James McCann to hit a grounder to third.
But Kyle Seager threw wildly to first, allowing a run to score and putting runners on second and third. Exit Gonzales and enter Cook, who was called up from Tacoma earlier in the day and had not pitched in the big leagues since 2015.
This was no soft landing for Cook, not with the tying runner at third and the go-ahead run at second. But Cook was up to the task, blowing away Iglesias to get out of the inning. And for an encore he retired the Tigers in order in the seventh inning.
“I’m happy for him, and I am happy for us,” Servais said. “He can really help us going forward.”
Cook said he was not bothered coming into such a difficult situation.
“It doesn’t change anything because I am trying to get everyone out every time,” he said. “I was excited to get out there and be in a situation where I could contribute.”
After Gonzales escaped a jam in the second inning — runners on first and second with no outs — the Mariners took the lead with a run in the bottom half of the inning.
Seager, who led off with a double, looked like he might be left stranded there, but Heredia drove him home with a clutch single to left field. One run seemed mighty fine at the time, but you can’t blame the Mariners for getting greedy after Gamel singled and Beckham walked to load the bases.
But Gordon, who was batting .182 for his career with the bases loaded, grounded out to second and the Mariners’ chance for a big inning ended.
The Mariners tacked on a run in the third inning. Segura led off with a double and Mitch Haniger promptly drove home Segura with a single.
For a while, it appeared that was all the offense Seattle needed. But when it mattered, Detroit came through, a half-inning after Seattle didn’t.