THE FACTS: There was much to like Saturday from the Mariners before Erasmo Ramirez suffered a five-run meltdown in the ninth inning that squandered a four-run lead in a loss to a San Francisco split squad.
The winning run scored when Mark Lowe threw a wild pitch with Kelby Tomlinson on third after a two-run triple against Ramirez.
It was pretty ugly stuff, but before that…
Mike Zunino hit two more homers and turned in a defensive gem on a bunt that helped the Mariners build an 8-4 lead.
“I’ve been able to implement some stuff I worked on in the off-season,” said Zunino, who has six homers in 42 at-bats. “I’m continuing to use these at-bats to build on it. I’m feeling better.
“It’s one of those things; you want to build on it for the regular season.”
Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma relied more on his slider because a small blister prevented him from throwing his split-finger fastball as much as usual.
Iwakuma missed on a 2-2 slider pitch to Justin Maxwell in the fourth, and the result was a booming three-run homer. Even so, Iwakuma was generally pleased despite giving up four runs and five hits in five innings.
“I feel I can enter the season right now, physically,” he said. “Obviously, from here on, it’s all mental. I feel like I have a lot of life on my fastball. That’s a good sign.”
PLAY OF THE GAME: Zunino pounced from behind the plate to grab what appeared to be a perfect bunt by Gregor Blanco up the third-base line in the fifth inning.
“That was just `get out there and see if you can get it before he gets down the line.,’” Zunino said. “Obviously, Blanco is a fast guy, and he put down a great bunt.”
Zunino made a strong throw to first that just beat Blanco for the out.
PLUS: Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen pitched a one-two-three sixth inning on 11 pitches…Robinson Cano keyed a two-run first with an RBI double. He later scored on a Nelson Cruz sacrifice fly…Kyle Seager tied the game in the fourth by hitting a first-pitch leadoff homer against Giants starter Jake Peavy. That came after San Francisco took a 4-3 lead in the of the inning on Maxwell’s homer…Willie Bloomquist started at shortstop and went 2-for-3 with two RBIs.
MINUS: Ramirez worked two scoreless innings before falling apart in the ninth after Maxwell led off with a single on a swinging bunt. Ramirez gave up four more hits to the next five hitters before exiting…Lowe had a chance to strand the tying run at third after striking out Jackson Williams and jumping ahead 0-2 on Brandon Bednar. But Lowe bounced a pitch that catcher John Baker couldn’t locate. Tomlinson scored easily.
QUOTABLE: Seager on his first-pitch leadoff homer in the fourth against Peavy: “After a long inning, I was banking on getting a first-pitch heater. Thankfully, I did.”
EXTRA INNINGS: The Mariners have used 92 different players this spring, which breaks the previous club record of 89 in 2006…The Mariners have lost four in a row and six of their last seven in falling to 10-14-2 with six spring games remaining.
UP NEXT: The Mariners, holding a 2-1 lead, conclude this spring’s Vedder Cup when they play complex co-tenant at 1:05 p.m. Sunday at Peoria Stadium.
Lefty J.A. Happ is scheduled to start against Padres right-hander Andrew Cashner.