ST. LOUIS – When Seattle Mariners manager Eric Wedge looks toward his bullpen for answers, he only seems to find more questions.
With the season winding down and the rosters expanded, the Mariners are carrying 10 relievers. But that doesn’t mean increased success.
On Sunday, Wedge called on four relievers, and they combined to give up seven runs in four innings. Only Lucas Luetge didn’t allow a baserunner in the 12-2 loss to the St. Louis Cardinals.
“Obviously, the bullpen wasn’t very good,” Wedge said.
The issues could continue over the final 13 games.
Each game until the end of the season, Wedge will have two to three relievers unavailable as he tries to reduce hefty workloads.
“It’s every day,” Wedge said. “We are in a stretch of (games in) 33 out of 34 days. A lot of these guys haven’t pitched this much, and most of them haven’t pitched this deep in the season.”
The bullpen has been a mess much of the season. While there have been pleasant surprises such as the emergence of Danny Farquhar and Yoervis Medina, there also have been disappointments such as the struggles of Carter Capps and Tom Wilhelmsen.
Capps struggled Sunday, facing three batters and retiring none. He gave up a single to Yadier Molina, a two-run homer to Matt Adams and a double to David Freese before being lifted. When Freese scored, Capps was charged with the run.
Capps was sent down to Triple-A Tacoma midseason to work on his mechanics, and the changes appeared to be working. Since returning to Seattle, he had made 14 appearances and posted a 3.44 earned-run average. He had struck out 19 batters in 18 innings. But Sunday was not a good outing.
“Today, he kind of reverted back,” Wedge said. “He threw six or seven pitches. They were all fastballs, and most of them were up. I don’t care how hard you throw, you aren’t going to get away with that.”
Wedge sent in Bobby LaFromboise and Chance Ruffin to clean up the damage. LaFromboise allowed three hits in the fifth, and Ruffin gave up three runs on five hits in two innings.
MILLER HURTS HAMSTRING
Shortstop Brad Miller will be out at least a few days because of a strained hamstring.
“He’s not going to do anything today,” Wedge said before the game. “He’s sore and tight. We’ll just take it day to day. But it’s going to be at least a couple of days.”
Miller suffered the strain running to first on a sacrifice bunt in Saturday night’s win.
“He runs hard and plays hard,” Wedge said. “I think it’s good we got him out of there when we did, so it doesn’t go to the next level.”
Carlos Triunfel will start at shortstop. Nick Franklin will take more ground balls at shortstop before games in case he must play there.
Justin Smoak was out of the lineup for the third consecutive day. Smoak has a tight quadriceps, and Wedge chose to rest him. Smoak felt discomfort when running the bases. Wedge expects him to be back Monday in Detroit. Smoak’s injury wasn’t an issue in St. Louis with the lack of a designated hitter and playing time going to Kendrys Morales. Abraham Almonte extended his hitting streak to five games with a double. He has hit safely in 11 of his 12 games this season. In his past eight games, Kyle Seager is 2-for-29 with two singles and seven strikeouts. Former W.F. West High School standout Brock Peterson got a pinch-hit at-bat for the Cardinals in the fifth inning and grounded out to third.
The Mariners open a four-game series Monday in Detroit. Left-hander Joe Saunders (11-14, 5.18 ERA) is scheduled to start for Seattle. The Tigers are expected to go with right-hander Rick Porcello (12-8, 4.56). First pitch is scheduled for 4:08 p.m. The game will be broadcast on Root Sports, 1030-AM and 710-AM.email@example.com Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish