This is a good time for the Mariners to get out of town and let the stench blow out of Safeco Field. Unfortunately for them, they can’t yet. Inept again at the plate, the Mariners scratched out only three hits against Jered Weaver through eight innings and were swept by the Angels, losing 7-1 in the series finale Sunday.
In three games against the fourth-place Angelinos, the Mariners tallied just two runs in 27 innings. Their lone run Sunday came on Dustlin Ackley’s long ball in the third inning, his second of the season and first at Safeco in 13 months. Aside from that, the Mariners managed to get three runners into scoring position.
The Mariners (59-70) are 11-18 since the end of their season-best eight-game winning streak (July 12-23). They have lost seven of their past 13, with an eight-game road trip facing them after a series against Texas starting Monday. Seattle is 7-9 against the Angels with three games remaining in the season series (Sept. 20-22).
The Angels spotted Seattle the Ackley home run and then pounced with four runs in the fourth and three in the sixth. All of the runs scored with two outs, largely the fault of starter Aaron Harang.
“All the runs came with two outs and nobody on,” said manager Eric Wedge, who witnessed his third straight loss, by a cumulative total of 14-2, since returning to the dugout following a minor strike. “He (Harang) has to be able to shut that down and get that final out. He had some bad misses in the middle. They (the Angels) were aggressive against him and did a nice job. But that domino has been a problem of Harang’s. It’s a matter of executing pitches. He had some bad misses and they touched him up.”
Harang’s (5-11, 5.76) woes provided more than enough support for Weaver, who entered the game having given up 13 runs in his past 11 innings but got well quickly. He allowed one run on three hits with eight strikeouts and no walks.
The Mariners offered little resistance again. They finished the series 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. In the last seven games, the Mariners are 10-for-52 with RISP (.192 BA).
The lone bright spot was Ackley, who had the home run and a double and improved his batting average to .330 since the All-Star break.
“It’s been encouraging to see and good for him,” Wedge said of Ackley. “Even in watching him on TV, you start to see him get over the hump and gain some confidence. He’s come a long way. I’ve been impressed with the way he’s handled it and fought through it.”
Angels took the lead in the fourth with Mark Trumbo’s run-scoring double and Chris Nelson’s two-run triple. Grant Green’s infield single plated Nelson.
The Angels tacked on three more in the sixth on a triple by Peter Bourjos and a two-run homer by Kole Calhoun. That chased Harang, who allowed seven earned runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings. He struck out seven and walked two.
The Angels had a chance to really bust it open in the eighth when they loaded the bases with one out. But Carter Capps wiggled out of the jam by striking out Trumbo and inducing Hank Conger to ground out.
The Mariners loaded the bases in the ninth with two outs but Justin Smoak whiffed.
The Mariners Monday send LHP Joe Saunders (10-12, 4.91) opposite LHP Travis Blackley (1-1, 4.85), a former Mariner. Following the Texas series, the Mariners embark upon an eight-game road trip through Houston and Kansas City.
NOTES: Catcher Mike Zunino, out of the lineup since breaking a bone in his wrist July 25, took batting practice before Sunday. He could be ready to play as early as next week . . . Nick Franklin returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a five-stitch cut to his left knee last Tuesday (not a happy return: 0-for-4 with three strikeouts) . . . Michael Saunders did not play Sunday for the second straight game due to a sore neck . . . Closer Danny Farquhar worked an inning in a non-save situation Sunday and pitched a perfect ninth with two strikeouts. He has retired 43 of the last 50 batters he’s faced.