An open date Thursday provides the Mariners with an extra 24 hours for soul-searching to assess how things have gotten so bad just 10 days into the season.
It comes after another miserable loss Wednesday when the Mariners let an early five-run slip away in a 10-5 loss to the Houston Astros at Safeco Field.
The Mariners are now 2-8 with at least three losses in games they appeared well positioned to win. It’s been a 10-day disaster that already has a long-suffering fan base bracing for a long and immensely disappointing summer.
"It’s a pretty rough 10-game stretch," manager Scott Servais said. "Disappointing. We were hoping to get two out of three here against Houston.
"We had some momentum going early and, unfortunately, couldn’t keep it going. Things are not going our way right now, but you’ve got to make your own luck. Make your breaks."
It started well.
The Mariners built a 5-0 lead against Houston starter Mike Fiers through three innings by getting homers from Mike Freeman and Taylor Motter. Fiers departed after the fourth.
Yovani Gallardo nearly gave it all back before giving way to Marc Rzepczynski to start the sixth inning. The Astros nicked Gallardo for two runs in the fourth and two more in the fifth.
Rzepczynski worked a six-pitch inning before the Astros stirred again against Dan Altavilla in the seventh. One-out singles by Josh Reddick, Jose Altuve and Carlos Correa tied the game.
"I felt a little fatigued on the mound," Altavilla said, "and I was trying to overcompensate. Rushing down the mound and flying open."
Carlos Beltran fouled out, but Alex Bregman (VIDEO LINK) pulled an RBI double past third — and Houston led 6-5 and wasn’t done.
After an intentional walk to Brian McCann loaded the bases, Altavilla bounced a slider past catcher Mike Zunino (VIDEO LINK) but beat Correa to the plate and applied the tag…before dropping the ball.
Houston stretched the lead to 10-5 by scoring three more runs (VIDEO LINK) in the eighth inning against Dillon Overton and just-recalled Evan Marshall. A five-run lead had become a fine-run deficit.
"I think nine or 10 times in a row," Houston manager A.J. Hinch said, "we had back-to-back good things happen, whether it’s walks or hits…a really good win."
The Mariners opened the scoring in the first inning after Jarrod Dyson led off with a four-pitch walk. He stole second and scored on Robinson Cano’s one-out RBI single to center.
Cano moved to third on Nelson Cruz’s single. Kyle Seager then hit a grounder to short that should have been an inning-ending double play, but Correa boxed the ball for an error. Cano scored for a 2-0 lead.
Freeman’s first career homer, a 366-foot drive to right, opened the second inning (VIDEO LINK) and extended the lead to 3-0.
The Mariners made it 5-0 on Motter’s two-run homer (VIDEO LINK) in the third inning, which followed Seager’s one-out single. They were sailing.
The game began to turn when Gallardo lost the strike zone in the fourth. Walks to Reddick and Altuve followed by a soft single from Correa loaded the bases with no outs.
"I just lost command for a couple of hitters," Gallardo said. "In that situation, something like that can’t happen. We’re up five runs, and something like that happens, it just can’t be that way.
When Beltran and Bregman struck out, Gallardo with a chance to escape unharmed, but he walked Brian McCann and forced in a run.
An infield single by Yuli Gurriel made it 5-2, but the Astros ran themselves out of a chance for a bigger inning when Correa got trapped between third and home for the final out.
Gallardo found more trouble in the fifth. Nori Aoki led off with a double and scored on Reddick’s one-out single. Altuve’s infield single moved Reddick to second.
Correa lined out to right, but Beltran grounded a single to right that cut the lead to 5-4. Gallardo ended the inning without further damage but, by then, the game was slipping away.
"That off day (Thursday)," Gallardo said, "is going to benefit all of us to refresh everything and forget about a tough first week and a half. Come back Friday, get into a good stretch and win ballgames."
PLAY OF THE GAME: The Mariners not only kept George Springer in the park in the first inning. Shortstop Taylor Motter (VIDEO LINK) made an over-the-shoulder basket catch in short left field.
Springer opened the first inning with homers in three of there previous six games between the two teams.
PLUS: Freeman started at first base and initiated a slick first-third-pitcher double play to end the second inning. (An overshifted Seager took the throw at second.) Freeman then opened the bottom of the inning with a homer…Rzepczynski got three ground-ball outs on six pitches in the sixth inning.
MINUS: Altavilla had allowed one run in 20 career appearances before allowing three runs in the seventh inning…the bullpen has allowed 18 runs in 12 innings over the last four games…Leonys Martin’s struggles at the plate deepened when he went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts. He is now 3-for-36 with 12 strikeouts.
STAT PACK: The Astros were 8-for-17 with runners in scoring position. The Mariners were 1-for-8, which leaves them at 13-for-88 through 10 games.
QUOTABLE: "Disappointing," Servais said. "Disappointing night."
SHORT HOPS: Motter has five hits this season and all are for extra-bases: four doubles and a homer…Mitch Haniger and Robinson Cano have hits in seven straight games…Haniger’s streak of scoring at least one run ended at eight games…the Astros had season highs with 10 runs and 16 hits.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners