New batting order. Same results.
The Seattle Mariners kicked off their 10-game road trip in familiar fashion despite sporting a new-look lineup, extending their losing streak to five games as the offense and bullpen faltered again in a 4-2 defeat Monday night in Arlington against the Texas Rangers.
“It’s the same old story,” manager Eric Wedge said after another frustrating loss. “These guys are going to have to dig deep and find a way to put into play what we want them to do offensively . . .I think they have a good understanding of what they need to do, but making sure that translates into games — that’s what we’re not seeing.”
The bullpen didn’t exactly help either.
With the game knotted at one in the sixth, relief pitcher Steve Delabar opened by walking Adrian Beltre before yielding a single to David Murphy. After striking out Nelson Cruz, he fell behind 2-0 to Mike Napoli.
The power-hitting catcher slammed the ensuing 95 mph fastball off the facade of the right field upper deck to give the Rangers a 4-1 lead they would never relinquish. Delabar’s surrender of three runs in four batters spoiled another gutsy performance from Mariners starter Kevin Millwood, who saw his streak of 18 scoreless innings come to an end in the second when Cruz belted an opposite-field solo home run.
Millwood lasted five innings but managed to hold the Rangers to four hits while striking out five in the no-decision.
With Wedge opting to bat designated hitter John Jaso leadoff in place of a struggling Dustin Ackley, and putting left fielder Chone Figgins No. 2, Seattle’s offense still appeared lifeless. Texas southpaw Matt Harrison, who entered the game with a 4.73 ERA, spun eight innings of two-run, seven-hit ball. Harrison struck out five and walked none.
The Mariners took an early lead after a one-out double from Figgins in the first. The $36 million utility man followed with a baserunning blunder, getting caught between second and third after Ichiro grounded weakly back to the pitcher. Hung up in a pickle, Figgins avoided a tag long enough to allow Ichiro to advance to second.
Jesus Montero followed with an RBI single through the right side to drive in Ichiro.
The other Seattle scoring threat came when Michael Saunders led off the eighth with a base hit. Brendan Ryan hit a sinking line drive into center field. Playing in place of an injured Josh Hamlilton, Texas center fielder Craig Gentry blundered, going into a face-first dive as the ball hopped over him and scooted all the way to the wall.
After Saunders scored easily from first, third base coach Jeff Datz opted to send Ryan. Cruz in right hit relay man Ian Kinsler, whose throw to Napoli, blocking the plate, gunned down the attempt at an inside-the-park home run, denying Seattle an opportunity to cut the deficit to one run.