The first impulse for any Mariners fan, after a game like Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Mets, is likely to be a renewed call for general manager Jack Zduriencik to find a bat to aid a suspect lineup.
So go ahead and grumble. Yell, even, if it makes you feel better.
This loss underscored the need for that bat, although all indications suggest Zduriencik is working to get one (or more). The Mariners appear to be linked though the rumor mill to every hitter who might be available.
Whatever happens, if something happens, it will come too late to reward a fine performance by right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who worked seven strong innings after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma.
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“This opportunity they gave me,” he said, “I wanted to show them that I’ve made the adjustments I need to make to throw strikes. I did that today, and I got to the seventh.”
Ramirez (1-5) also matched a career high with 10 strikeouts while yielding five hits but still exited trailing 2-1 because the Mariners mustered little against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.
“We hit some balls hard, too,” first baseman Logan Morrison said. “That’s what happens, I guess. It sucks. It’s the same story.”
An all-too-familiar story.
“We didn’t have many chances,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “That young man (deGrom) threw a darn good ballgame against us. He’s got a big arm.”
Once Ramirez left, New York immediately extended its lead when Lucas Duda crushed a one-out homer against Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth inning.
Duda’s 446-foot drive struck the advertising board at the front of the second deck in right field.
That’s how it ended.
DeGrom (4-5) allowed only one run and five hits in seven innings before Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia closed out the victory. Mejia pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances.
“We are seeing what all the minor-league reports said about (deGrom),” Mets manager Terry Collins said. “He keeps the ball down (and) gets ground balls. … It’s really impressive to see.”
Ramirez deserved better. The two runs he surrendered resulted largely from a decision by center fielder James Jones to gamble on a sliding shoestring catch with a runner at first and no outs in the second inning.
When Jones failed to make the catch on Travis d’Arnaud’s sinking liner, the result was an RBI triple. D’Arnaud scored later in the inning on a bloop single.
“That’s a big point in the game,” Jones said. “If I catch that ball, the guy would still be on first. I would still take the chance on that.
“I thought I had it. It wasn’t like, when I was (sliding) I thought, ‘Oh, I don’t have this.’’ I really thought I was going to make that play.”
McClendon chided Jones for sliding instead of diving or pulling up and playing the ball on a hop.
“I’m not very fond of slides,” McClendon said. “I think the only reason you slide to a ball is if you’re avoiding the wall or you’re avoiding a player. That’s something that he’ll learn from.
“If he would have dove for the ball, he might have caught it or he certainly would have blocked it.”
It was pivotal.
The Mariners optioned Ramirez back to Tacoma after the game to clear space for right-hander Taijuan Walker, who will be recalled, officially, Wednesday from the Rainiers to start the series finale against the Mets.
Ramirez chose to be upbeat.
“If you need me,” he said, “I’m going to be around. I wanted to show them what I can do.”
The wild-card news wasn’t good, either.
The Mariners’ four closest pursuers all won, so their lead in the chase for the American League’s final postseason spot is down to 11/2 games over the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Indians are two back, and the Royals 31/2.
The Mariners’ only run came in the fifth after Willie Bloomquist squirted a one-out single through the right side. Dustin Ackley followed with an RBI double into the right-center gap.
A wild relay throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy to the plate permitted Ackley to take third, but the Mariners left him there when Mike Zunino hit a fly to short left, and Endy Chavez grounded to second.
The search for a bat remains ongoing.