Left fielder Dayan Viciedo ripped an 0-2, over-the-plate mistake from Kameron Loe in the bottom of the 10th into the right-field seats, giving the Chicago White Sox a 4-3 victory over the Mariners Sunday. Viciedo’s walkoff shot made for a 2-1 series victory and sent the Mariners home with a 3-4 record for the season’s first week, all on the road.
A win would have clinched the first series win at U.S. Cellular Field for the Mariners since 2007. They also would have produced their first winning road trip to start a season since the 2009 club went 5-2. Instead, the Mariners have now dropped eight consecutive series in Chicago, combining to go 3-20 since 2008.
The Mariners had two more home runs Sunday, Michael Morse’s fifth in the first inning and a solo jolt by Kendrys Morales — his first as a Mariner — in the sixth. But the White Sox countered with three long balls, Adam Dunn and Alex Rios victimizing Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma before Viciedo ended the game by jumping on Loe, who didn’t even bother watching the ball sail into the stands.
Iwakuma (1-0), who defeated Oakland in his first start, pitched a commendable game aside from the home runs. He allowed three runs on four hits over 8.0 innings with three strikeouts and no walks. At one point, Iwakuma retired 16 consecutive hitters.
Even with the long balls, Iwakuma might have come away a winner if the Mariners capitalized on opportunities. But they couldn’t, going 0-for-7 with runners in scoring position while stranding seven men.
In the losses in Chicago Saturday and Sunday behind their two best starters, the Mariners went 0-for-14 with runners in scoring position. In their four losses during the trip, the Mariners went 0-for-19 with RISP.
Before Viciedo’s homer, the Mariners had two excellent chances to break a 3-3 tie. In the eighth, they had two on with one out, but Matt Lindstrom fanned Morse and Jesus Montero.
With two outs in the 10th, Michael Saunders doubled, and Morales was walked intentionally. But Morse fanned for the fourth time, ending the threat.
Morse, who staked Iwakuma to a 2-0 lead (Jason Bay walked) in the first, has a hit in each game. He’s the first Mariner to accomplish that feat since Franklin Gutierrez opened the 2010 season by hitting in eight straight games. Morse’s streak is also the longest active in the majors.
Seattle’s advantage didn’t last 20 minutes. In the bottom of the first, following an Alexei Ramirez double, Dunn whacked an 0-and-1 pitch from Iwakuma over the wall in right.
Morales, who went 3-for-4, gave the Mariners a 3-2 lead in the sixth when he homered to center on an 0-and-1 count, but Rios came back in the seventh to victimize Iwakuma. Rios homered in every game during the series. Fortunately for the Mariners, they do not have to visit U.S. Cellular Field again this season.
The Mariners begin their 37th home campaign Monday night when the Houston Astros, newest member of the AL West, arrive for a three-game series. Lefty Joe Saunders (0-1, 9.00 ERA), who had a bad Seattle debut, but is 6-0 lifetime at Safeco Field, will get the start for Seattle opposite Philip Humber (0-1, 1.59).
The last time Humber pitched at Safeco Field, April 21, 2012 for the Chicago White Sox, he threw a perfect game.
The Houston series commences a 10-game home stand that will also feature appearances by the Texas Rangers Thursday-Sunday and Detroit Tigers April 16-18.