It isn’t just a snooze-susceptible attack the Seattle Mariners need to address. Their concept of re-gifting requires some work.
One night after capitalizing on a defensive misplay for a victory, the Mariners reversed roles Thursday night in a 7-0 loss to the San Francisco Giants at Safeco Field.
Shortstop Brad Miller fumbled the glove-hand exchange on a potential double-play grounder in the second inning — and the Giants went on to score three runs.
“Good pitch (from Mariners starter Mike Montgomery),” Miller said. “The pitch we needed. Perfect feed. On the exchange, (I) just bobbled it.”
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That was enough, really, because the Mariners’ punchless lineup was more short-handed than usual after second baseman Robinson Cano and third baseman Kyle Seager were late scratches.
Cano is battling stiffness in his lower back, while Seager shows symptoms of food poisoning. Losing two infielders meant outfielder Dustin Ackley played second base for the first time since Sept. 21, 2013.
“We sent Seager home with IV bags and medicine,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Robby wrenched his back pretty good. And, really, I probably shouldn’t have played (Nelson) Cruz. He was throwing up as well right before the game.”
McClendon said he hoped all three would be ready to play Friday against Houston.
This loss came one night after the Mariners, behind Felix Hernandez, beat addWorld Series MVP Madison Bumgarner, 2-0, in large part because Giants center fielder Angel Pagan short-armed a fly ball that turned into an RBI triple.
And here, until the eighth, the Giants’ three-run second inning was the game’s only scoring. Then Tom Wilhelmsen absorbed his second rough ride in three days.
Wilhelmsen replaced Montgomery after Pagan’s one-out single in the eighth inning. Wilhelmsen walked Buster Posey before yielding a two-run triple to Matt Duffy.
That was really it, although the Giants scored two more runs before Joe Beimel could end the inning.
Wilhelmsen gave up three runs Tuesday in the eighth inning when the Giants turned a one-run lead into a 6-2 victory in San Francisco. His ERA spiked from 1.96 to 4.19 in those two outings.
“Just a little confusion on what he wanted to throw and when he wanted to throw it,” McClendon said. “That’s something we’ve got to get straightened out.”
The sum is the Mariners settled for a split in their two-and-two series against the Giants after winning the first game in each city.
It also means the Mariners, at 30-37, are 9 1/2 games behind first-place Houston, which arrives Friday for a three-game weekend series at Safeco Field.
The math is getting grim.
Ryan Vogelsong (5-5) gave up just one hit, a bloop single by Cruz in the first inning, before exiting after a pair of two-out singles in the seventh. Javier Lopez stranded both runners.
“He had good stuff,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “Ninty-three (mph) when he needed it and really good command with a lot of called strikeouts. I thought he had a good breaking ball, change-up, everything.”
The Giants closed out their shutout victory with one inning apiece from Hunter Strickland and Jeremy Affeldt, a graduate of Northwest Christian near Spokane.
Montgomery (1-2) deserved far better than a line showing four runs in 7 1/3 innings, although he set himself up for trouble in the second inning by walking Brandon Belt after being ahead 1-2 in the count.
Singles by Andrew Susac and Justin Maxwell loaded the bases.
Even so, Montgomery should have gotten away clean when Joaquin Arias hit a grounder to Ackley, who made a routine flip to Miller for what should have been an inning-ending double play.
But the Mariners settled for one out when Miller dropped the ball while pulling it out of his glove. A run scored.
“For me,” Montgomery said, “it doesn’t make a difference. I’ve got to go out there and make quality pitches. The next couple of guys, I left some balls over the plate.”
Nori Aoki followed with an RBI single, and Joe Panik then ripped an RBI double. That quickly, it was 3-0. There was no error on Miller’s bobble, so all three runs were earned.
Vogelsong ran with the lead. He retired eight in a row after Cruz’s single, in a three-strikeout third inning — all looking. Cruz broke the streak with a one-out walk in the fourth.
The Mariners didn’t get their second hit until Miller’s two-out single in the seventh. Willie Bloomquist followed with a soft flare into right and, from nowhere, the Mariners, still down just three runs, had a two-on threat.
It died quickly after Bochy summoned Lopez to face Ackley, who grounded to first on a full-count fastball.