Yovani Gallardo was heading out of the Mariners clubhouse Wednesday when the pitcher had a last word with Felix Hernandez.
“Mañana,” said Gallardo.
“Tomorrow” essentially covers all the positives about a day that began with the news Drew Smyly is headed for Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined until 2019. Obtained from Tampa Bay as a veteran lefty starter, Smyly has yet to appear in a regular-seson game for the Mariners, and may never appear in a regular-season game for the Mariners.
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The bad-news vibe continued through the matinee at Safeco Field, where the Mariners somehow found a way to lose to the Philadelphia Phillies, 5-4. A two-game sweep of the worst team in baseball should have concluded the most successful homestand in memory.
Instead, it extended the Mariners’ losing streak to four.
Compounding the frustration was the fact they took a 4-3 lead into the top of the ninth. But closer Edwin Diaz delivered a fat, full-count fastball to Phillies DH Tommy Joseph, tying the score at 4, before giving up a two-out walk Cameron Perkins, a .111 hitter.
A balk sent Perkins to second, and Andrew Knapp’s single drove Perkins home. When Andrew Knapp and Cameron Perkins are pivotal participants in game-winning rallies, on your field, it’s pretty much fulfills any definition of a crummy day.
Crummiest day of the season? A few of them come to mind as the Mariners approach Game No. 81, the halfway point. There was April 25, at Detroit, where Hernandez and right fielder Mitch Haniger suffered disabled-list injuries a few minutes apart during a blowout loss to the Tigers.
There was May 27 at Boston, where about the only thing the Mariners were able to hit was what manager Scott Servais described as “rock bottom.”
And, of course, there was the original tone setter, April 9 at Anaheim, where the Mariners went into the bottom of the ninth with a 9-3 lead, needing three outs for an easy victory, and never got the third out.
Compared to that punch-in-the-gut debacle, failing to hold a 4-3 lead over a Phillies team on pace to lose 100 games was a wrist slap.
“Anybody can beat anybody in this league,” Servais reminded reporters afterward. “It happens. But certainly we need to play better. We’re not paying very good right now.
“It doesn’t matter who you’re playing. If you’re not on top of your game, you’re going to struggle.”
King Felix bounced back from a grim third inning and gave Mariners an outing more solid than spectacular. The offense combined for 11 hits, including solo homers off the bats of Kyle Seager, Danny Valencia and Robinson Cano. The bullpen got the game to Diaz.
“A one-run lead in the ninth, with Eddie Diaz out there, you feel pretty good about that,” said Servais. “He just made a bad pitch.”
Actually, Diaz made several bad pitches, and the balk that put Perkins in position to score on Knapp’s hit didn’t help.
Diaz’ struggles cost Hernandez his fourth victory of the season and second of the homestand, but he’s grown accustomed to the ritual of taking no-decisions and losses from efforts worthy of wins.
He plans to sit down with Diaz during the team’s Thursday plane trip to Anaheim, possibly reminding the young reliever that he wasn’t the first closer to blow a one-run lead in the ninth inning, and he won’t be the last.
“Baseball is a great game,” said Servais. “But many days, it can be cruel.”
When those cruel days are done, a team moves on.