This rest-the-rotation gambit that Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon chose this week might yet pay dividends down the road.
That might take the sting out of a Wednesday disaster in which Erasmo Ramirez returned from Triple-A Tacoma and authored an epic implosion over three-plus innings in a 12-4 loss to Texas.
“When it’s like that,” Ramirez said, “nobody’s going to be happy, and I’m not happy. I was feeling good. I was just missing my spots.”
This result was, yes, the Mariners’ worst loss of the season.
The Mariners had not allowed four runs in an inning since July 24 before the Rangers roughed up Ramirez for four in the second inning. Ramirez then gave up four more in the third.
“They just attacked any pitch in the strike zone,” catcher Mike Zunino said. “They put good swings on balls today.”
Ramirez (1-6) exited after the first two batters reached in the fourth inning. Both scored. Both runs were charged to Ramirez, whose line showed 10 runs and nine hits.
“Not very good,” McClendon said. “Up in the zone. I was encouraged after the first inning. For some he started getting the ball up in the zone. That’s not a good thing against any team.”
The 12 overall snapped a club-record streak off 144 games by the Mariners without allowing double-digit runs. That dates to a 12-2 loss at St. Louis on Sept. 15, 2013.
The last Mariners pitcher to allow 10 runs was Jason Vargas on June 20, 2012, when he gave up 10 over 4 1/3 innings in a 12-2 loss at Arizona.
“Today just got out of hand early,” left fielder Dustin Ackley said, “and we weren’t able to chip away as quickly as they put them on the board.”
The Mariners’ biggest loss had been a 7-0 spanking by the Marlins on April 19 in Miami. That was No. 5 in an eight-game skid that remains the season’s low point.
Wednesday’s deficit reached 12-1 when Joe Beimel surrendered a two-run homer by Leonys Martin in the sixth inning before the Mariners countered later in the inning on Kendrys Morales’ two-run double.
The Mariners got the game’s final run on Kyle Seager’s homer in the ninth.
McClendon opted to rest his starters after seeing signs of wear on a recent 6-3 road trip through Detroit, Philadelphia and Boston. With Thursday’s open date, that means all five will pitch next on a full week of rest.
But that meant the Mariners needed a starter for Wednesday, and Ramirez was the obvious choice; he had not permitted more than three earned runs in any of his last 11 starts at Tacoma.
It just didn’t work, but McClendon had no second thoughts.
“Absolutely not,” he said. “It was the right thing to do. It was an unfortunate loss, but it was the right thing to do.”
Despite the loss, the Mariners (72-60) maintained a one-half-game lead over Detroit (71-60) in the battle for the American League’s final wild-card berth. The Tigers lost 8-4 to the New York Yankees later in the day.
Veteran Texas right-hander Colby Lewis (9-11) showed some early wobbles, but those eased once the Rangers turned the game into a rout. He got his seventh career complete game.
“After he got that lead,” Texas manager Ron Washington said, “he started to really focus on throwing strikes. He made them swing the bats. He walked only one guy.”
Ramirez found trouble after a one-out walk in the second inning to Jim Adduci, who went to third on Adam Rosales’ soft single into center.
Rougned Odor popped to short, but Ramirez loaded the bases by hitting Michael Choice with a 1-2 change-up.
Tomas Telis then sent a drive to deep right field that Logan Morrison reached and initially caught — but the ball came free when Morrison hit the wall for a three-run double.
“It just kind of sums up the day, I guess,” Morrison said. “I make that play, no runs score. I don’t make that play, three runs score. Different game. Obviously, from there, it got worse.”
Martin followed with an RBI single to right for a 4-0 lead.
It marked the biggest single inning against the Mariners since Baltimore scored four in the third inning on July 24 in a 4-0 victory at Safeco Field.
The Mariners got one run back on Zunino’s two-out blast later in the inning. It was his 19th homer of the season and matched Miguel Olivo’s 2011 club record for catchers.
Texas then teed up another four-run inning against Ramirez in the third.
Line singles by Mike Carp and Adrian Beltre, followed by a perfect Adduci bunt single, loaded the bases with no outs. Rosales popped to short, but Odor rocked a grand slam over the right-center wall.
And it was 8-1.
Three runs or fewer over 265 consecutive innings covering 31 games. Then successive four-spots. Ouch.
“A game like this,” Zunino said, “you have to (put it behind you). We have an off day to regroup and then have a big (weekend) series against Washington.”