Same ol sad song: Mariners get shut down
If it seems familiar, it’s because it has happened so many times before.
The Seattle Mariners were shut out – for the 11th time this season.
And they were beaten by Matt Harrison – for the eighth straight time.
Sunday’s 4-0 loss to the Texas Rangers used a formula perfected over recent seasons – decent pitching, no run support, resulting in a nondescript loss that leaves fans shaking their heads in frustration.
The aggravation is heightened when reminded of the Mariners’ decisive 7-0 win on Saturday over All-Star Yu Darvish.
But that’s another Mariners pattern – inconsistency.
All season, manager Eric Wedge has promised that his team will get better. He maintained that positive front Sunday.
“You can’t give into the fight, you can’t give into the grind,” Wedge said. “You have moments of frustration, but ultimately the belief never changes. It’s not just blind faith. There are real reasons to believe these young men are going to be much more consistent offensively.”
Wedge feels Seattle showed optimistic signs against Harrison, despite his quality statistical line.
The Rangers’ All-Star left-hander allowed just five hits in nine scoreless innings, and overcame four walks with three strikeouts. He improved to 12-4, tying him for most wins in the major leagues. His record against the Mariners is even better, a career 9-1 mark with a 2.25 earned-run average. Seattle hitters are hitting just .231 against him. Harrison is also 5-0 at Safeco Field with a 0.96 ERA.
“I thought it was different today,” Wedge said. “I know we didn’t score any runs. (But) our at-bats were a lot better against him. I think we only struck out a couple times. We had seven or eight hard outs.”
Wedge had a point. Seattle (37-53) had several hard-hit balls that resulted in outs. The most costly came off the bat of Sunday’s surprise leadoff hitter, Brendan Ryan, in the second inning with the Mariners down 1-0.
With two outs and runners on first and second, Ryan ripped a line drive that seemed destined for the right-center field gap. But it was grabbed out of the air by second baseman Ian Kinsler to end the rally, eliciting a scream of frustration from Ryan.
“You do everything right and something good doesn’t happen. It is frustrating,” Ryan said. “That’s about as loud as I’ve ever yelled – just the way things have gone personally. That’s an RBI there. We probably have runners at first and third and you have (Ichiro) up, so who knows what could have happened.”
Instead of tying the game, the Mariners fell behind 3-0 in the top of the third.
For the third straight inning, Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma allowed the leadoff hitter to reach base as No. 9 hitter Craig Gentry singled to right field. Elvis Andrus delivered a one-out double that could have scored Gentry, but he was held at third base. With first base open, Wedge elected to have the ultra-dangerous Josh Hamilton intentionally walked.
It was a sound strategy, which didn’t pay off. Former Mariner Adrian Beltre muscled a ground ball through the left side to score Gentry and Andrus.
“He did a good job of getting a ground ball but it found a hole,” Wedge said of Iwakuma. “If it’s a couple steps one way or the other we have a potential double-play ball.”
Iwakuma gave up a solo homer to Ian Kinsler to start the fifth inning to make it a 4-0 game. But he made it through five, giving up four runs on seven hits with three walks.
“Iwakuma gave us a chance against that lineup,” Wedge said. “We got him up to 80-some pitches after throwing 70 the last time. Next time out, we can push him a little more.”
The Mariners’ bullpen kept the Rangers quiet the rest of the way. The quartet of Steve Delabar, Charlie Furbush, Brandon League and Tom Wilhelmsen allowed just one run over the final four innings.
But the Mariners never could get the key hit to break through. Michael Saunders picked up his second hit of the game – just the second left-hander to have a multihit game against Harrison this season – with a leadoff single in the fifth. But he was quickly erased when Chone Figgins lined into a double play.
“Chances are you won’t get too many opportunities against a guy like that,” Saunders said. “We hit the ball hard, but nothing really fell for us. That’s the way the game goes sometimes.”
Seattle had runners on first and second with one out in the seventh, but Ryan’s hard ground ball to third was gloved by Beltre and resulted in a 5-4-3 double play.
“Once he got through the lineup a couple times, you saw him work the change-up and start getting guys off balance,” Ryan said of Harrison. “It shows how good his stuff is because he can go to his third pitch and he’s effective. You really want those balls to fall in when you can.”