Yes, they’re in the middle of a massive youth movement. No, the Seattle Mariners have not hit well at Safeco Field this season.
What an intimate crowd of 13,931 wanted to see Wednesday was a win – not more explanations for a team that cannot seem to win at home – and instead saw the Mariners lose to the San Diego Padres, 1-0.
If there has been a tougher loss than being shut out by a team that came in with the worst record in the majors, Seattle would rather not discuss it.
And no, they haven’t forgotten that April 21 perfect game thrown against them.
But, really. The Padres? On consecutive nights?
“I try to hit the same way at home and on the road, and so does the team,” said Jesus Montero, who had three hits. “Maybe the pitchers just pitch better here, I don’t know.
“I know we try hard.”
Hector Noesi deserved better than his seventh loss. He pitched seven solid innings, allowing one run, that coming on Yonder Alonso’s seventh-inning home run.
The Mariners collected their usual assortment of eight hits – seven of them singles. They put together any number of opportunities and failed to capitalize on any of them.
None was more frustrating than the seventh inning, when the Mariners loaded the bases on a one-out walk, a single and an error to get to Ichiro Suzuki and Dustin Ackley.
The Padres went with submarine throwing left-hander Joe Thatcher, and Ichiro tapped a one hopper to third base, forcing runner John Jaso out at the plate.
“I tried to get a pitch I could do something with and struck out on an unbelievable pitch,” he said. “I probably got a pitch I should have done more with than I did tonight, but I’m not sure of that. They really pitched us well when they had to.”
For San Diego, that was most of the night. Seattle went down 1-2-3 twice, including in the ninth against closer Huston Street.
If good pitching cost the Mariners chances, so did mistakes – none bigger than Montero’s in the second inning. With no one out, Montero singled and Justin Smoak walked.
Michael Saunders then hit a sinking looper to left field, and Montero went about a third of the way toward third base and froze.
“He made a bad read on that ball,” manager Eric Wedge said.
When it was caught, Montero was easily doubled off base. Instead of one out and two men on, there were two outs and one man on. The Padres got out of the jam.
The Mariners left men on base nearly every inning, somehow remaining scoreless throughout.
When Casper Wells led off the fifth inning with a single, Munenori Kawasaki grounded into a double play – right before Ichiro doubled.
In the eighth inning, Montero and Saunders both singled, and with two outs Jaso came to the plate.
The Padres wanted no part of Jaso, and threw him four consecutive off-speed pitches – each of them 84 mph. Jaso took two for strikes, another for a ball, then swung and missed.
For six innings, Noesi held serve, shutting down the Padres on three hits. Burned on 0-2 pitches in his last start, Noesi found ways around that this time.
“Montero came out and told me, put that pitch in the dirt, and I did,” Noesi said. “I really focused on keeping that 0-2, 1-2 pitch down. I think I fixed that problem in my last bullpen session.”
In the bottom of the sixth inning, Smoak hit one of those long, loud fly balls that Safeco Field famously devours, and it was caught on the warning track in right-center field. Rounding first base, Smoak slammed his helmet.
The first Padres batter of the seventh inning – first baseman Alonso – then added insult to frustration by hitting his second home run of the season to right field.
That was the only run.
Seattle’s pitching was marvelous, its defense solid.
“Our offense has got to figure this out at home, and it will,” Wedge insisted. “It’s my job, and our coaches, to help these kids do that. We need to be the offensive team we can be with men on base.
“You can’t play to be perfect, and if we’d done what we’ve done on the road, we wouldn’t have to be. We try to do too much at times. Being a professional means dealing with these things.”firstname.lastname@example.org blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @LarryLaRue