Kyle Seager belted a three-run homer in the first inning and a solo shot in the sixth, but the Mariners (11-15) could do little else offensively Wednesday and dropped their fifth consecutive game, a 5-4 decision to the Tampa Bay Rays. The streak, following four wins in a row to start the current 10-day, 10-game road trip, is a season high.
Seattle has never been swept in a four-game series by Tampa Bay, but that could happen Wednesday morning (10:05 a.m.) when the Mariners and Rays conclude this four-game set.
Trailing 5-4 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Mariners had a chance to tie or take the lead when they placed runners on the corners with one out. But neither Alex Liddi nor Justin Smoak could produce a clutch hit.
James Shields, who allowed four earned runs over 6.0 innings, improved to 5-0, 3.70, while Seattle starter Blake Beavan, who worked 5.1 innings, allowing five earned runs on seven hits, including two home runs, took the loss, his third of the year against one victory.
Seager drove in all the runs with his two homers, and added a single for a 3-for-4 night. But the Mariners could produce only four other hits, two by Ichiro (who raised his average to .312), none for extra bases. It marked the third consecutive game that the Mariners whacked multiple home runs for naught, and continued a trend of clutch-batting feebleness.
The Mariners went 2-for-6 with runners in scoring position, stranded six and struck out 14 times. The Mariners have whiffed 53 times in the past five games, including 38 in the past three.
“The strikeouts to me are ridiculous right now,” said manager Eric Wedge. “This is not going to continue to happen.”
Figgins, who did not play Tuesday after an 0-for-6 Monday, fanned three times, went 0-for-4, and is 0-for-14 since belting a leadoff home run April 29. SS Brendan Ryan also whiffed three times and is hitless in his last 26 at-bats. Figgins is hitting .198, Ryan .125 (DH Justin Smoak splits the difference at .184).
“We’ll give him (Figgins) another chance to see if he can get himself going, but this doesn’t last forever,” added Wedge. “This is all about production. If this continues, ultimately we’ll have to change their (Figgins and Ryan) roles. These guys have to show me they deserve to keep on playing.”
The Mariners put up three runs in the first after Figgins and Dustin Ackley struck out. Ichiro walked on a full count, advanced to second on Jesus Montero’s infield single, and both scored when Seager homered on a down-and-in fastball to right on a full count. Seager’s home run, his second of the season, snapped an 0-for-30 streak the Mariners had going with runners in scoring position.
The Rays picked up two more runs and took a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the fourth when Molina smacked a two-run double following singles by Luke Scott and Will Rhymes. Molina got as far as third on a passed ball by Montero (Seattle’s American League-leading seventh of the season), but Beavan got out of the inning.
Seager ripped his second homer of (and third of the year) on a 1-0 count to lead off the sixth, tying the score at 4, but Scott went yard on a full count to give Tampa a 5-4 advantage in the bottom of the sixth. After Rhymes singled, Beavan departed.
The Mariners got Ichiro aboard in the eighth after a successful bunt down the third-base line. Ichiro got into scoring position on a wild pitch and advanced to third when Seager collected his third hit, a single to left. With runners on the corners and one out, Liddi popped out to the catcher and Smoak flew out to right.
Seattle Thursday will start Kevin Millwood (0-2, 5.24) opposite Jeff Niemann (1-3, 3.86). The Mariners begin a three-game series with the Minnesota Twins, who were no-hit Wednesday bu the Angels’ Jared Weaver, Friday (7:10 p.m.) at Safeco Field.