SEATTLE — What generally got overlooked in Tuesday’s disappointing loss to the Tampa Bay Rays was that the Seattle Mariners pretty much went fetal at the plate. And, OK, that was against former Cy Young Award winner David Price. It happens.
But on Wednesday, it wasn’t Price. It was Jake Odorizzi, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before the Rays’ bullpen closed out a 2-0 victory at Safeco Field.
“Today, we fell behind in a lot of at-bats,” said Mariners left fielder Dustin Ackley, whose one-out double in the eighth was the Mariners’ second and final hit. “We had to hit from behind in bad counts. That’s always tough.”
But the Mariners didn’t go quietly.
When first base umpire Lance Barksdale called John Buck for a check-swing strike on a full-count pitch in the eighth inning with Ackley on second, it brought manager Lloyd McClendon out of the dugout.
And when Barksdale quickly ejected McClendon … well, McClendon went into full Billy Martin mode. He flung his cap toward the outfield and then unloaded on Barksdale.
“What I took exception with … obviously, we didn’t think he swung, but for the umpire to tell me, ‘Don’t come out there,’ that part I don’t get,” McClendon said.
“It is what it is. You guys write what you see. You tell it. Because if I tell it, I get fined.”
As McClendon headed back to the dugout after his ejection, he tossed his cap once more, this time into the stands.
It was entertaining for the announced crowd of 20,951. It might have been therapeutic for McClendon and his club. It didn’t change anything, of course.
The Mariners fell back to .500 at 20-20 by losing for the third time in four games. They also lost a series after going 4-0-1 in their previous five. They have an open date Thursday before playing three games in Minnesota.
It will be surprising if club officials don’t look for a way to shake up an attack that too often flat-lines.
“You try not to overanalyze and blow things out of proportion,” McClendon said. “You have to continue to look at the big picture. Do we have shortcomings offensively? Of course we do.
“Do we have challenges? Yes. Can we win? Yes, we can.”
The attention in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rays centered on Fernando Rodney’s inability to protect a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning for Hisashi Iwakuma.
But the Mariners were 0-for-10 against Price with runners in scoring position. Against Odorizzi, they managed just two walks before James Jones served a two-out single to left in the sixth.
It was a soft liner that landed in front of left fielder Matt Joyce, and it prevented history from repeating. It was 18 years ago Wednesday that New York Yankees right-hander Dwight Gooden pitched a no-hitter against the Mariners.
Odorizzi (2-3) lugged a 5.79 earned-run average into the game, but he breezed through his six innings, allowing the one single and two walks while striking out seven.
“I thought I had a really good fastball today,” he said. “It felt good coming out. The hitters tell you what your stuff is like, and they didn’t put any hard contact on it, anything like that, so we kept going to it.”
Left-hander Jake McGee replaced Odorizzi to start the seventh and worked around a leadoff walk to Robinson Cano. Joel Peralta surrendered Ackley’s one-out double in the eighth.
That brought up Buck, who worked the count full before — replays suggest — he checked his swing on a pitch that darted out of the strike zone. It was called a strike.
“You saw the film,” Buck said. “I was (surprised at the call). That was one of those ones where I felt, literally, that I held that up. … What are you going to do?”
Barksdale saw it as a swing, which is all that mattered. Grant Balfour then closed out Odorizzi’s victory with a scoreless ninth for his seventh save.
Mariners starter Brandon Maurer allowed 14 hits, all singles, in his previous start without registering a strikeout or a walk. That hadn’t been done in almost 96 years, and Maurer didn’t come close to doing it again.
This time, he worked through the first inning with no hits — but walked one and struck out one. Maurer yielded an extra-base hit when Wil Myers whacked a one-out double in the second inning, but he pitched around it.
An old bugaboo surfaced when Maurer (1-2) lost command with two outs in the fourth. With a runner on first, he loaded the bases by walking Myers and Desmond Jennings.
Maurer jumped ahead 0-2 on Yunel Escobar before issuing a third consecutive walk and forcing in a run.
“Once you get behind,” Maurer said, “you’re not trying to leave anything there for them to hit, so it’s kind of a tough situation to be in.”
McClendon summoned Dominic Leone, who buried a wild pitch that scooted past catcher Buck. All runners advanced, and it was 2-0.
After that came a roar but no runs for the Mariners.
“This was a tough series,” McClendon said. “We certainly had opportunities to take this series. We didn’t perform offensively. We look at it, learn from it and move on.”