As if losing four games this weekend in Houston wasn’t bad enough, the Mariners also lost center fielder Austin Jackson.
For how long is still to be determined.
Jackson suffered a sprained right ankle in the third inning Sunday while running out an infield grounder. He walked gingerly from the field and exited the game for evaluation.
“It’s not too bad, hopefully,” Jackson said. “I’ve sprained my ankle a few times in the past. That kind of helps (give me an idea). It’s not too swollen. It’s just kind of sore right now.”
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Club officials said Jackson will be re-evaluated Monday in Anaheim prior to the start of a three-game series against the Angels. Jackson sounded optimistic when asked if he thought he could avoid the disabled list.
“That’s definitely the hope,” he said. “I’ll come in (Monday) and get re-evaluated and see how it feels. Hopefully, it’s not that bad.”
Jackson is batting .242 with 11 runs, two doubles, two homers and four RBIs in 25 games.
Justin Ruggiano replaced Jackson in center field and, barring a roster move, projects as the replacement until Jackson is deemed ready to play.
The four-game skid in Houston prompted the first in a series of roster moves before the Mariners departed for Anaheim.
Relievers Yoervis Medina and Tyler Olson were optioned to Triple-A Tacoma. Manager Lloyd McClendon said corresponding moves will be made prior to Monday’s series opener against the Angels.
“Medina was elevating quite a bit,” McClendon said. “We need to get some things straightened out, and it’s hard to get it straightened out here in the big leagues. It’s just almost impossible.
“Both of those kids need to go down and get a couple of things straightened out, and they’ll be fine.”
Medina had seven walks in 12 innings over 12 appearances, but he had only allowed four earned runs for a 3.00 ERA. Olson, a Spokane native, was 1-1 with a 5.40 ERA after allowing eight runs and 18 hits in 131/3 innings in 11 games.
One likely promotion candidate is lefty Joe Beimel, who pitched two scoreless innings Saturday for the Rainiers. That makes three scoreless outings covering 32/3 innings since his April 25 activation.
Other possible promotion candidates are right-handers Mark Lowe and Mayckol Guaipe.
SMITH’S STREAK ENDS
Carson Smith’s club record for scoreless innings to start his career ended in the worst way: He gave up the game-winning homer to Evan Gattis in the eighth inning on a line drive that barely cleared the left-field wall.
“I had my fingers crossed (it would hit the wall),” Smith said. “I didn’t know if it had the height or not. It was hit well, and it cleared by a few feet.”
Smith had made 20 scoreless appearances to start his career prior to Sunday and, by working a one-two-three seventh inning, had a streak of 191/3 scoreless innings before Gattis’ homer.
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen reported “no issues” after throwing a 35-pitch bullpen session prior to the game in the latest step in his recovery from a hyperextended right elbow.
“I threw everything,” he said. “It went well.”
Tentative plans call for Wilhelmsen to throw a simulated game — i.e., he will face hitters under game-like conditions — Wednesday in Anaheim. He could then depart on a brief minor league rehab assignment.
“Just one (rehab game) maybe,” McClendon said. “He won’t need much time. He’s a reliever.”
Sunday was Wilhelmsen’s second bullpen workout in three days after not throwing from the mound since April 10 in Oakland. He suffered the injury the following day in a pregame conditioning workout.
ONE OR THE OTHER
Here’s a great statistic to indicate the Mariners’ struggles:
In 11 games when their offense produces four or more runs of support, the pitching staff has a 5.76 ERA and has allowed 17 homers. Seattle is 5-6 in those games.
In 14 games when their offense produced fewer than four runs, their pitching staff has a 3.23 ERA and has allowed eight home runs. They are 5-9 in those games.
Right-handed reliever Trey Cochran-Gill remains on a roll at Class A Bakersfield. He closed out Saturday’s 3-1 victory at Visalia (Diamondbacks) by pitching two scoreless innings.
Cochran-Gill, 22, has a 1.08 ERA after limiting opponents to two runs and seven hits in 162/3 innings over nine appearances. He was a 17th-round pick from Auburn in last year’s draft.
The Mariners begin the final leg of their three-city trip when they open a three-game series against the Los Angeles Angels at 7:05 p.m. Monday at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.
Right-hander Felix Hernandez (4-0, 1.82 ERA) looks to start a season with five victories for the first time in his career.
The Angels will start right-hander Matt Shoemaker (2-1, 6.00).