For the second consecutive game, the Seattle Mariners served up double-digit runs to the Texas Rangers. And again, for the second consecutive game, their own offense couldn’t manage more than one.
In line for a possible four-game series sweep earlier in the weekend, the Mariners instead split with their American League West rivals, losing the final two games by a combined 27 runs. Sunday’s 14-1 loss at T-Mobile Park was just as lopsided as Saturday’s forgettable 15-1 blowout, and neither were easy to swallow.
Seattle (18-13) has now lost five of its past seven with a recently surging Chicago Cubs team coming to town for a short stay.
Monday’s scheduled off day now seems well placed to help the Mariners — who struggled mightily offensively, defensively and on the mound the past two days — regroup enough to challenge Chicago starters Cole Hamels and Jon Lester, a Tacoma native, this week.
“We need a day off, I think that’s pretty clear,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “(Saturday) night we got behind the 8-ball, and again today. Don’t make the plays defensively that we need to, and we made some mistakes pitching.
“Coming into the series, I knew there were going to be a lot of runs scored. Texas can swing the bat, as we can, but the last couple of days we’ve been on the bad side of it.”
Making his third start of the season Sunday afternoon, rookie right-hander Erik Swanson (0-3, 6.62 ERA) trudged through four-plus innings, allowing nine runs (six earned) on 11 hits, while striking out two.
Swanson threw just 69 pitches before he was pulled in the fifth, and couldn’t find command of his secondary pitches — his slider and changeup — to play off of the elevated fastball that he used so successfully in his first two starts.
“Both of my secondary pitches — my slider, changeup — I left them too far up in the zone pretty much every time,” Swanson said. “I think I threw one quality slider tonight. I got away from what I’ve been doing a little bit here the last couple outings where I’ve been having success, and paid the price for it.”
Texas took a 1-0 lead on the first on a Hunter Pence RBI single that ricocheted off Swanson’s foot, and bounced out of reach of second baseman Dee Gordon.
And, much like Saturday’s loss, a pair of early homers helped the Rangers quickly pull away. Swanson gave up four consecutive hits in the third, including two-run shots to Elvis Andrus and Pence.
“(Swanson) made a lot of mistakes with off-speed stuff today,” Servais said. “His slider really wasn’t doing much at all, left the ball just kind of spinning at the plate and gave up the home run to Andrus.
“His fastball is his pitch. It’s got to be located in the right spots, and they were on it when he didn’t get it in the right spots. When you make mistakes to a good hitting club with power, they took advantage of it.”
Again mirroring the night before, errors charged to Mariners shortstop Tim Beckham — who leads the majors with 11 in 29 appearances — and left fielder Domingo Santana in the fifth led to four more runs charged to Swanson, who left with no outs in the frame.
“It isn’t for lack of work and trying to get through it,” Servais said. “We’ve had stretches where we’ve played very poor defense, and we’ve had stretches where we’ll play six, seven games and we’re making all the plays and we roll.
“It’s just so vital for your pitching staff. ... When you make a pitch and you think you’ve got an out and it doesn’t happen, it’s just very deflating. We’ve seen that. When we’ve made an error, they’ve tacked on runs right behind it.”
The Mariners committed four errors in the game — Gordon’s in the eighth also led to a run, and center fielder Mallex Smith dropped a fly ball for the second time in as many days — bringing their MLB-leading total to 37.
“It’s got that snowball effect right now,” Servais said. “It’s something we’ve got to get right, otherwise we’ll be in other games like this. In this league, it’s 27 outs, no more. … You give teams extra outs, and it really comes back to haunt you.”
Seattle relievers Brandon Brennan and Zac Rosscup each struck out the side in their one inning of work, but Cory Gearrin and Connor Sadzeck were each tagged for one run, and Anthony Swarzak gave up a three-run homer in the eighth.
Texas combined for four long balls in the game, while the Mariners managed just one run on seven hits, and struck out 10 times. Beckham scratched across Seattle’s only run in the fourth, scoring on a fielder’s choice.
Rangers starter Lance Lynn (3-2, 5.45 ERA) worked seven innings, allowing the one earned run on five hits, striking out nine and walking three.
“We’ve been beating up on teams for the most part in the beginning of the year,” Smith said. “We get beat up, too, sometimes. ... You’re going to have games where you get beat up on. That’s just part of the game. That’s why you play so many.”
The Mariners have an off day Monday before beginning a short two-game series against the Chicago Cubs to end their homestand.
Former ace Felix Hernandez (1-2, 3.91) is scheduled to make his sixth start of the season against Chicago left-hander Hamels (3-0, 3.16).