SEATTLE – The Mariners on Saturday were one out away from clinching a series victory against the Texas Rangers, one out away from turning Sunday’s game at Safeco Field into a sweep-seeking venture.
Instead, after victory eluded them in agonizing fashion on Saturday night, Seattle concluded its weekend series against the division-leading Rangers with another defeat, this one 6-4 on Sunday afternoon before 39,251 witnesses.
This was mostly a dud: the Rangers scored three runs with two outs in the top of the fourth inning, the highlight Mitch Moreland’s two-run home run just over the fence in left-center field.
And after starting pitcher Wade Miley departed after five innings, the Rangers added another three runs in the sixth against Seattle’s bullpen. Mariners right-hander Steve Johnson faced three batters. He walked the first two and allowed a single to the third, shortstop Elvis Andrus, who drove in left fielder Ryan Rua from second base.
Left-hander Vidal Nuno entered the game and struck out Moreland before walking Robinson Chirinos and coaxing an infield popup from leadoff hitter Jurickson Profar. But center fielder Ian Desmond piped a two-out single into center field, scoring Prince Fielder and Andrus, and the Rangers had a five-run lead.
Seattle’s first run came via the bat of center fielder Leonys Martin, who hit his first home run since returning on Friday from the disabled list. With one out in the fifth, Martin fouled a pair of pitches off his foot before launching a towering blast into the right-center field seats, his 10th homer of the season.
But that was all the Mariners could get against Texas starter Cole Hamels, who allowed only four hits in seven innings. Seattle hinted at scoring a time or two – the Mariners moved runners into scoring position in the third, fourth and seventh – but none of those rallies went anywhere. Ketel Marte grounded out to second base to strand Shawn O’Malley at second base in the third. Franklin Gutierrez and Nelson Cruz were stuck on second and first in the fourth inning after Dae-Ho Lee struck out and Kyle Seager popped out to third.
In the bottom of the seventh, after Seager singled and catcher Chris Iannetta walked with one out, and it looked as if the Mariners might get themselves back in the game … Martin popped out, and O’Malley stuck a sharp line drive into the glove of Andrus, who leapt from his shortstop position to snag the third out.
The Mariners fared better against the Rangers’ bullpen. They loaded the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth, then pushed a pair of runs across after left-handed reliever Jake Diekman hit Seager with a pitch and walked Iannetta on four pitches. But Martin grounded out to second base to put a cap on the damage.
They also scored in the bottom of the ninth when Robinson Cano laced a two-out single into the right-field corner, scoring Marte, who had doubled with one out, from third base ... but Cano was thrown out at second base trying to turn his hit into a double, and that’s how the game ended.
Miley labored through five innings on 97 pitches. He struck out six batters, walked three and allowed four hits, three of which came in the fourth inning. Rua had the first of those – a single – then moved to second base on a wild pitch before scoring on Andrus’ single. Moreland immediately followed with his two-run homer.
The loss drops the Mariners to 34-29, and they now trail the Rangers by five games in the American League West standings.