ARLINGTON, Texas — It’s not as if the Mariners didn’t enter the season with some question marks. But suspect infield defense on the left side wasn’t expected to be one of them.
So let’s call this an anomaly.
Third baseman Kyle Seager and shortstop Ketel Marte each booted routine grounders Monday in a decisive fifth inning that sent the Mariners to a 3-2 loss to Texas despite permitting one hit.
That’s one Rangers hit in the entire game.
“Felix (Hernandez) gives up one hit and what — one earned run?” Seager asked. “We should win 2-1. Pretty simple. Catch the ball.”
Except they didn’t.
The Mariners had a 2-0 lead on homers by Robinson Cano and Seager against Texas left-hander Cole Hamels when Rougned Odor started the Texas fifth inning with a walk. Odor then stole second base.
Elvis Andrus followed with a routine grounder to Seager, a Gold Glove recipient in 2014. Odor broke for third on the grounder, which provided Seager with an opportunity.
Until he let the ball skip off his glove.
“The ball was hit, and I looked over and saw (Odor) coming,” Seager said. “I heard (teammates) talking to me, saying he was coming. I saw him before I went back to the ball. I just didn’t stay on the ball long enough.
“I tried to catch it and make a play.”
The error put runners at first and third with no outs.
Andrus moved to second on Robinson Chirinos’ bunt, which wasn’t scored a sacrifice because scorer Steve Weller ruled Chirinos was bunting for a base-hit.
That ruling was irrelevant to how the inning unfolded. The Rangers now had runners at second and third with one out.
That’s when Hernandez lost the strike zone. He issued successive walks to Delino DeShields and Shin-Soo Choo, which forced in a run and left the bases loaded with one out.
Those walks had Hernandez fuming afterward as he tried to take responsibility for his first career loss in a season opener.
“It’s on me,” he insisted. “I was opening my front side. That’s why I was missing a lot of pitches. All game.”
Prince Fielder then lofted a soft fly into short left field, which dropped in front of Nori Aoki for an RBI single. That was the Rangers’ only hit of the game. The runners, unsure Aoki wouldn’t reach the ball, advanced only one base.
Even so, the game was tied 2-2.
It should have ended there. Hernandez induced close friend/former teammate/nemesis Adrian Beltre to hit a harder grounder straight to Marte. A perfect double-play ball.
“I don’t know what happened,” Marte said. “I was in good position and then, at the last second, I don’t know. I lost the ball. The last second, it moved to the right. But that’s part of the game.”
That error led to another run. The winning run.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners