SEATTLE — Let’s credit the Seattle Mariners with this much over the last couple weeks. When they lose, they don’t mess around. No torment or anguish. No maybe, almost or what could have been.
They go down like an early Tyson victim. Hard. Often quick.
Wednesday night, for example. Mariners starter Roenis Elias retired the first nine Kansas City batters in order but failed to survive a seven-run fourth inning — (pause) again, a seven-run fourth inning — in an 8-2 loss.
What happened? Afterward, even the Mariners weren’t sure.
“We’re trying to figure that out,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He was throwing a whale of a ballgame.It just fell apart in the fourth inning for him, and he couldn’t get it back together. He lost command.”
OK…except Elias insisted: “They were good pitches. They just put good swings on them. There’s not much you can do there.”
This much is certain: The Mariners are 6-8 since June 11. All eight losses have been by three or more runs. Five have been by at least five runs. In five of those losses, their opponent scored at least four runs in a single inning.
That alone is a virtual knockout punch against a club that averages an American League-worst 3.42 runs per game.
The Mariners also, on Wednesday, lost the final game in a series for the ninth straight time. A victory in all but one of those nine games would have permitted them to either split, win or sweep a series.
Win just four of those nine games, and the Mariners have a winning record and some traction as the season pushes toward the halfway point.
Instead, they are 33-40, trail first-place Houston by 8 1/2 games in the American League West and are now just one-half game ahead of last-place Oakland.
“I wish I could tell you our guys were flat,” McClendon said. “That they weren’t fired up. That they weren’t ready to play. That’s just not the case. We came out with a lot of energy. It just got away in the fourth.
“It got away very quickly.”
McClendon keeps pointing out the season has a long way to go. True enough, 89 more games. And a 6-8 stretch is nothing near a collapse. But the Mariners are wasting opportunities.
On Wednesday, they faced Kansas City lefty Danny Duffy, who hadn’t pitched since May 16 because of biceps tendinitis. Duffy draws high marks for stuff, but he also had a 5.87 ERA in eight starts prior to his injury.
The Mariners had a few early chances they failed to cash, but Elias (4-5) was sailing along…until the fourth inning.
Then the dam broke. Seven runs scored. And that was too much for the Mariners to overcome even when Duffy weakened in a two-run fifth and failed to last long enough to qualify for the victory.
“Danny pitched great,” Kansas City manager Ned Yost said. “He ran out of the gas in the fifth. I wanted to really try and get him through that game and give him the win, but I wasn’t going to jeopardize anything."
The Royals simply turned to their potent bullpen. Ryan Madson (1-1) got four outs after replacing Duffy. Then it was Kelvin Herrera, Franklin Morales and Brandon Finnegan.
“With Duffy,” shortstop Brad Miller said, “it’s hard, and it cuts and moves. He gets on you. And they’re bullpen is really good. Everyone they threw out there had some pretty nice stuff tonight.”
Elias unraveled in a hurry. He rolled through three innings before Alcides Escobar opened the fourth by dropping a single in front of right fielder Mark Trumbo.
Mike Moustakas followed by turning on a full-count fastball and driving it into the right-field seats for a two-run homer and a 2-0 lead. It was also the first homer allowed this year by Elias to a left-handed hitter.
“The Moustakas pitch,” Elias said, “was a fastball down and, apparently, that’s a pitch he can handle.”
And, oh, that was just the start.
Eric Hosmer grounded a one-out single up the middle, and Alex Gordon drew a two-out walk. Elias then loaded the bases by hitting Alex Rios with a 1-2 pitch.
Omar Infante cleared the bases (VIDEO LINK) with a three-run double into the left-field corner. Jarrod Dyson followed with an RBI double to left. That quickly, it was 6-0 and Elias was gone.
“It was a fastball inside (to Infante),” Elias said. “I put it where I wanted to put it. He just put a good swing on it and got a double.”
Still, the Royals weren’t done.
Dyson stole third on reliever Vidal Nuno’s first pitch to Escobar, who then yanked an RBI double into left. That made it 7-0 and closed the book on Elias at seven runs and five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
That seven-spot spiked Elias’ from 3.56 to 4.25.
The Mariners suffered four shutouts in their previous 13 games but struck for two runs in the fifth. Singles by Miller and Austin Jackson preceded a sacrifice fly by just-returned Franklin Gutierrez.
An two-out error by Escobar on Nelson Cruz’s sharp grounder permitted another run to score. Nothing more, though. Just another lopsided loss.