This has got to be rock bottom for the Mariners. If it gets worse than this, it’s not worth thinking about.
The Mariners, incredibly, blew a six-run lead in the ninth inning Sunday in a 10-9 walk-off loss to the Los Angeles Angels that capped a disastrous opening week that sees them limping into Monday’s home opener at 1-6.
"It’s hard," second baseman Robinson Cano admitted. "I would say, for myself, until we start the game (Monday), this one is going to be in my head. You want to go out there and win every game.
"When you lose a game like that…"
Cliff Pennington capped the rally with a long single to right field against Edwin Diaz, who gave up the final three runs after allowing three inherited runners to score.
"I thought I made good pitches," Diaz said, "but they were ready for my fastball. They hit it pretty good… It’s tough, but tomorrow is another day."
Sure, it’s a cliche, but the Mariners don’t have a lot of answers right now. This is a club that adopted "Whatever It Takes" as its slogan to end the franchise’s 15-year postseason drought.
They talked of the need to get off to a fast start in an April schedule overloaded with division opponents. And now…this.
"We’ll find out what we’re made of," designated hitter Nelson Cruz said. "We’ll see if we can find a way to get it done."
The first step is flushing away what happened Sunday in the ninth inning.
"We’ll bounce back," manager Scott Servais vowed. "We will. I believe in our guys. We’ve had some tough losses in the past. I don’t know if any were quite this tough.
"With how this road trip has gone, we needed to end it on a positive note. We’re better than we’ve played, and it’s everybody. Everybody has to pick up their game."
The Mariners entered the ninth inning with a 9-3 lead. Cano had shaken free from a first-week slump by delivering five RBIs on a three-run homer and a two-run double.
Hisashi Iwakuma had limited the Angels (VIDEO LINK) to one run and two hits over six innings in a second straight strong start.
Nick Vincent wobbled through a two-run seventh inning, but Marc Rzepczynski and Dan Altavilla combined for a scoreless eighth. The Mariners then called on Casey Fien to close it out a 9-3 lead.
And everything went wrong.
Albert Pujols started the comeback with a first-pitch leadoff homer against Fien. The Angels then loaded the bases with no outs before the Mariners summoned Diaz, who got two quick outs.
Yunel Escobar then squeezed a two-run double past first. Walks to Kole Calhoun and Mike Trout loaded the bases for Pujols, who batted for the second time.
Pujols swung late on a Diaz fastball but tied the game by squirting a two-run single past a diving first baseman Danny Valencia. Pennington followed with his walk-off winner.
It left the Mariners numb.
"It’s hard when you lose that kind of game," Cano said in a quiet clubhouse as the Mariners dressed for their charter flight to Seattle in preparation for Monday’s game against Houston at Safeco Field.
"It’s like nothing is going our way. You’ve just got to keep fighting. The last thing you want to do is hang your head and start thinking about what happened in the first seven games."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Cano also turned in the defensive gem of the game when he gloved Calhoun’s soft grounder up the middle after Yunel Escobar’s leadoff single in the eighth inning.
Cano glove-flipped the ball to Segura (VIDEO LINK) for the force before Segura completed the double play with a strong throw to first.
PLUS: Cano had a breakout game with his third five-RBI game as a Mariner…Iwakuma was dominant for six innings…Altavilla overmatched Trout for a strikeout to end the eighth inning…Jean Segura reached safely in his first three plate appearances and scored each time…Chooch Ruiz went 2-for-4…Mitch Haniger had his third homer in four games.
MINUS: Fien faced four batters and retired none in an effort that puts his roster spot at risk. Right-handed reliever Tony Zych is eligible to be activated Monday from the disabled list…Diaz couldn’t control his slider. He bounced several, which allowed the Angels to sit on his fastball…Vincent has allowed eight runs and 10 hits over 5 1/3 innings in five appearances at Angel Stadium since joining the Mariners prior to last season.
QUOTABLE: "It wasn’t typical Eddie Diaz," Servais said, "but he should not have been in that situation. We had a six-run lead going into the ninth inning. You’re not expecting to have to go to him."
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners