BY Adam Lewis 06:40PM 06/30/2013

Comeback Falls Short; Mariners in Free Fall

Little was said in the home clubhouse after the Mariners’ latest one-run setback. The rubber game in the Cubs series Sunday played out similarly to the preceding three months of losing baseball at Safeco Field. A 7-6 defeat to Chicago (35-45) pushed the Mariners (35-47) to a new low of 12 below .500 as they dropped the series and finale of an eight-game homestand.

Winning three of eight at your own place is no way to turn around a season.

Nor is deploying Jeremy Bonderman when his pitches are up in the strike zone. The Cubs took no issue with capitalizing. Their four doubles in the second inning built a quick 3-0 lead.

“He never really got going today,” manager Eric Wedge said of Bonderman, who had posted four consecutive quality starts after a shaky season debut at Minnesota. “They were really laying off some tough pitches and squaring him up pretty good. Ultimately, we had to get him out of there.”

Sloppy defense was no cure, either. That came in the fourth when third baseman Kyle Seager allowed a Wellington Castillo ground ball to scoot through his legs and into left field after Darwin Barney led off the inning with a double.

After Luis Valbuena grounded out, Starlin Castro followed with an RBI single, and Bonderman’s day was over. His final line: 3.1 innings, six hits and six runs, only four of which were earned.

Chicago’s Anthony Rizzo and Alfonso Soriano would tack on two more RBIs to give the Cubs a 7-1 lead before Blake Beavan worked out of the inning.

But not before Seattle yielded three unearned runs. Not a winning formula — even against a National League doormat.

“If I made some more pitches in the inning I came into, it probably would have been a different ballgame,” Beavan said after working 4.2 innings of three-hit, one-run ball.

To their credit, the Mariners nearly made it one.

In the fifth, shortstop Brad Miller energized the sun-drenched 24,701 in attendance with a leadoff double, the first hit of his major league career. He would later come around to score when Nick Franklin hit a two-out RBI single.

“It was a little weight lifted off me just because I wanted to get in the swing of things and help out,” Miller, 22, said after going 2-for-3 with a pair of doubles in the third game of his career.

A Jason Bay solo home run in the seventh inning cut the deficit to 7-3. Raul Ibanez did the same to lead off the eighth, the 19th of his age-defying season. The line drive landed several rows up in right center and extended Ibanez’s hitting streak to seven games.

“He’s a professional hitter and he’s had a great first half,” Wedge said. “He’s been so big for us and obviously with our runners-in-scoring-position issues (the Mariners were 1 for 14 in RISP Sunday), you look at what he does and how he handles certain situations and it’s right there in front of you to watch and learn from.”

Seager did that two batters later, busting out of a 1-for-26 slump by hitting a towering two-run home run down the right-field line to cut the lead to one. Back-to-back walks from a shaky Chicago bullpen made the biggest comeback win of the season feel imminent. But a pinch-hitting Mike Zunino popped out and Endy Chavez grounded out to third to end Seattle’s final scoring threat.

“The guys did a great job of fighting back today,” Wedge said after the Mariners dropped to 10-15 in one-run affairs. “We had our opportunities but that’s not good enough.”

Just like the first half of the season.

Notes: The Mariners traded outfielder Eric Thames to the Baltimore Orioles for Ty Kelly, an infielder hitting .283 for their AA affiliate in the Eastern League  . . .  Wedge pre-game said Dustin Ackley is day-to-day with a thumb injury after jamming it Saturday diving for a ball in center field… Michael Saunders was unavailable to do anything but pinch run for the second consecutive day after jamming his hand Friday diving back into third base . . .  Wedge pre-game said shortstop Brendan Ryan was “on call” to play outfield if anybody else went down with an injury. Mike Morse and Franklin Gutierrez are on the disabled list  . . . Wedge dropped Seager to fifth in the lineup. He entered 1-for-23 in the last seven days . . . According to Wedge, relief pitcher Stephen Pryor (60-day DL) threw a 30-pitch bullpen earlier in the week . . . Jason Bay has 10 home runs this season. All have been solo shots . . .  Franklin went 2-for-5,  raising his average to .295 . . . Ibanez hit 10 home runs in June, matching his career high.


YourThoughts

  • Trygvesture

    “Right there in front of you to watch and learn from.”
    Yeah, Eric. And, sooooo….???

    WHO watches and learns? If not your guys, then who?

    Fans?

    AAA guys in Tacoma?

    Reporters? Scouts?

    • art thiel

      No one appreciates they’re ahead of the Astros.

  • Will

    Let’s see … the two upper management guys are apparently safe and there’s only a few players with serious trade value … That means the normal progression: 1. The hitting coach will be fired. 2. There will be more bobblehead nights. 3. The grounds keepers and peanut vendors will be fired. 4. It’s time to fire the manager but upper management has a plan – so they’ll trade for a 47 year old ex-player with a .220 lifetime batting average. What did the M’s give for the over-the-hill batter? Three top-notch pitchers and a can’t-miss shortstop, of course to the Yankees … That’s when the manager quits and moves to Montana to study the zen of flyfishing which then motivates the team and they win two in a row. Reality sets in, they remember what team they’re on, and the entire team pulls a groin while celebrating a two out single against the Marlins.

    • jafabian

      The groundskeepers and peanut vendors will not be fired. Instead, the groundskeepers will add to their dance routine and the peanut vendors will learn a new pitch. However, this all but guarantees the opening of Randy Johnson’s Big Unit Burgers on the 200 level at Safeco Field. Just to further enhance the stadium experience.

      • art thiel

        How about Aurilia’s Arugula?

    • art thiel

      But it’s a nice scoreboard.

  • Leon Russell

    Well done. You wrote this entire article without using the term “meltdown.”

    • art thiel

      The kid has potential.

      • Will

        Potential is easy, getting paid, earning a Pulitzer or, in the case of the M’s, making the World Series is another!

  • maqman

    Actually team game attendance is up slightly so far this season with an average game attendance of 21,541 this year compared to 21,258 last year, an increase of 283 a game. Not much I agree but given the team’s record being pretty much the same and some ticket prices being raised people seem to be finding the kids are worth watching.

    • art thiel

      Some people watch “Hoarders.”

      • Trygvesture

        [In fact, reports now suggest that the number of former Mariners fans who now watch Hoarders is up from 36,347 to a whopping 47,448 on average-- an increase of 11,101 converted non-fans. With the M's demographic for potential fans now up over 97,384, the gain of 283 is actually a net uncounted loss of 97,101. With the 11,101 non-fans now watching Hoarders, the others watching the Rainiers, Aqua Sox and Belles, the net baseball fandom is up a stunning 86,002 . This seemingly leaves an M's boycott-participating fandom standing at about 87,300, if the pre-exisiting number of Hoarders fans are factored in and weighted for those holding joint Mariner/Hoarder loyalties. Inevitable regression to the mean will therefore predict a lower monthly today-adjusted paid ticket attendence.
        Pretty sure.]