THE FACTS: Ryan Casteel broke a 1-1 tie with an RBI double to deep center in the ninth inning after the Mariners opened the door with two infield misplays. The Rockies added two more runs.
Those defensive breakdowns came after the Mariners wasted Stefen Romero’s leadoff triple in the eighth inning. The Mariners (4-5) were 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position.
For all that, Mariners lefty Danny Hultzen provided the day’s highlight by pitching one scoreless inning in his first game appearance since Sept. 1, 2013.
Hultzen was the second overall pick in the 2011 draft and advanced to Triple-A Tacoma in 2013 before suffering a shoulder injury that required major surgery.
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PLAY(S) OF THE GAME: The Mariners threw the game away in the ninth inning. First, second baseman Shawn O’Malley threw wide to first on a routine leadoff grounder by Mike Tauchman.
Lucas Luetge then had Tauchman picked off, but first baseman D.J. Peterson made an off-line throw to second. The result was a stolen base.
A sacrifice moved Tauchman to third before Luetge surrendered Casteel’s RBI double, Will Spanner’s RBI single and Kyle Parker’s RBI double.
PLUS: Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen made his spring debut by recording three ground outs in the sixth. He threw 10 pitches, including seven strikes…Kyle Seager hit his first spring homer, a two-out drive in the third that erased a 1-0 deficit. Seager hit two other balls hard but had nothing to show for it…reliever Yoervis Medina pitched a clean seventh inning and has not allowed a run in 3 2/3 innings over three outings…Lefty Charlie Furbush had a one-two-three eighth after allowing three runs and four hits in two innings in two previous outings…Catcher Jesus Sucre easily threw out D.J. LeMahieu on an attempted steal of second in the fifth inning — just the sort of play the Mariners wanted to see from a backup catcher…Seth Smith ended a 0-for-8 spring skid by lining a double into the left-center gap in the first inning.
MINUS: Start with that big wasted opportunity in the eighth inning and add the defensive goofs in the ninth…Fernando Rodney pitched a scoreless fifth inning but had to work around two walks to do it. It didn’t stop him from performing his arrow-shoot pantomime, to cheers, as he neared the dugout…The Mariners also wasted a chance in the seventh when Jordy Lara hit a weak grounder to short that resulted in an out at the plate after the Mariners put runners at second and third with one out.
JOB BATTLES: Shortstop candidates Brad Miller and Chris Taylor teamed again up the middle because of Robinson Cano’s ongoing absence to attend his grandfather’s funeral in the Dominican. Miller went 0-for-3, while Taylor was 0-for-2 with a walk…Luetge deserved better from his defense in the ninth, but his quest for a bullpen job wasn’t helped by surrendering three straight RBI hits.
QUOTABLE: “I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time,” Hultzen said. “It’s been a really long road. To be able to come back and pitch again is incredible. There were times when I doubted that I could ever come back again. I’m through that now. I’m really happy I can play baseball again.”
EXTRA INNINGS: Left fielder Rickie Weeks left the game after four innings because of what he characterized as minor tightness in his hamstring…Scouts from several clubs were on hand to watch Erasmo Ramirez, who gave up one run — a Tulowitzki homer — in three innings. Ramirez is out of options but is viewed as a long shot to make the roster.
UP NEXT: The Mariners make their longest trip of the spring Thursday in a 45-mile trip to Mesa to play Oakland at the Cubs’ former home of HoHoKam Stadium. The game starts at 12:05 p.m.
Right-hander Jordan Pries will start for the Mariners, who are keeping Hisashi Iwakuma in Peoria to face minor-leaguers rather than let the A’s see him. Oakland plans to start lefty Scott Kazmir.