OAKLAND, Calif. — As fiascos go, this was a pretty complete effort Friday night by the Mariners in a 12-0 collapse against the Oakland Athletics at the O.co Coliseum.
Heck, if you forfeit, you only lose 9-0.
“It’s part of the game,” second baseman Robinson Cano insisted. “It’s nothing to worry about. We’ve got a great team. This happens. What else can you say? Everything was in their favor today.”
Right-hander Taijuan Walker, so dominant in spring training, gave up three runs in the first inning and nine overall by the time he exited with one out in the fourth.
“I definitely want to be mad about it,” he said, “but I felt like it’s baseball. I thought we hit the ball really hard, too, but we didn’t find the holes. But they did.”
A lineup the Mariners bolstered through several off-season additions aimed, particularly, to soften its vulnerability to left-handed pitchers, rolled over weakly in seven innings against Athletics southpaw Drew Pomeranz.
“The results,” manager Lloyd McClendon noted, “were not good.”
So there was a lot that went wrong right from the start.
Still, this entire shambles can be distilled into one play: bases loaded in Oakland’s six-run fourth inning with lead-footed Billy Butler coming to the plate.
It wasn’t the pivotal moment. The A’s already led 7-0 but, as his last act, Walker had just issued an intentional walk to Ben Zobrist to set up a double-play situation as Tom Wilhelmsen took the mound to face Butler.
Butler has, since the start of the 2010 season, grounded into 118 double plays. More than any other player. He generally hits the ball hard, often on the ground, and always runs like he’s in a pool.
Wilhelmsen got Butler to hit a grounder to short, but it wasn’t a double-play grounder. Willie Bloomquist had only one play. To first. And the throw was late.
Yep, Butler beat out an infield single with the bases loaded.
That’s a bad night.
And, momma, this was a bad night.
Pomeranz retired the first 10 Mariners before Austin Jackson lined a one-out single to left in the fourth inning. Cano immediately ended the inning by grounding into a double play on Pomeranz’s next pitch.
The Mariners didn’t get another runner until Jackson lined a one-out single to center in the seventh inning. They never got a runner as far as second base.
Pomeranz was magnificent in matching a career high by pitching seven innings. He gave up only the two singles to Jackson, didn’t walk a batter and struck out six while throwing 92 pitches.
Fernando Abad and R.J. Alvarez completed the shutout.
The Mariners have now lost three in a row since winning their season opener behind Felix Hernandez. They send lefty J.A. Happ to the mound Saturday afternoon to face Oakland ace Sonny Gray.
“You just throw this one in the tank,” catcher Mike Zunino said, “and hope we can get a good start from Jay (on Saturday). Get back going again.”
The A’s shellacked Walker right from the start. Mark Canha reached on a one-out infield single in the first, and Zobrist followed with an RBI double off the wall in the right-center gap.
Walker struck out Butler and appeared to fool Ike Davis with a pitch, but Davis flicked an RBI single into center field for a 2-0 lead. Walker then jumped ahead 0-2 on Brett Lawrie but missed with the next four pitches.
That walk moved Davis to second, which turned into another run when Stephen Vogt served an RBI single into center and it was 3-0.
Walker’s shaky start was much like Wednesday night when Hisashi Iwakuma gave up four runs in the first inning to the Los Angeles Angels in what turned into a 5-3 loss.
Iwakuma got better after the first inning.
Sam Fuld pushed a one-out single through the left side in the second before Canha teed off on a 93-mph fastball on a 2-0 count. Canha drove the ball deep over the left-field wall for his first career homer and a 5-0 lead.
Walker worked a one-two-three third inning but found a lot more trouble in the fourth after Semien led off with a double past third. Semien scored on Fuld’s one-out single before Canha blooped a single to left.
Fuld raced to third and, when he beat the throw from left fielder Rickie Weeks, Canha took second. Walker closed his night with an intentional walk to Zobrist, which loaded the bases for Butler.
In came Wilhelmsen…and an already long night got a lot longer.