The Mariners had several chances to knock off AL Central-leading Detroit Tuesday night, especially in the eighth inning when they loaded the bases with one out in a game the Tigers led 3-2. But as happened repeatedly in 2013, Seattle couldn’t cash with runners in scoring position and fell to the Tigers 6-2 at Comerica Park. The Mariners have lost three in a row, their season in a shambles, a collapse in progress.
The opportunity in the eighth began when Raul Ibanez, who homered earlier, walked on a full count with one out. Justin Smoak reached on an error by Tigers shortstop Jose Iglesias. Tigers reliever Phil Coke, who had no command at all, walked Michael Saunders, loading the sacks.
Presented with an opportunity to put Seattle into the lead, catcher Mike Zunino hit into a double play, ending the threat and Seattle’s chances. Not content with squeezing out a triumph, Detroit tacked on three runs in the eighth, winning easily.
The Mariners (66-85) have lost lost eight of their last nine and 12 of 16 in September. The Mariners have 11 to play and can only afford four more losses if they hope to avoid 90 defeats, a number that will haunt them all winter.
The Tigers assumed a 1-0 in the fourth on Don Kelly’s two-out, solo home run (his sixth). The Mariners had a chance to respond in the top fifth when they put two aboard with two outs on Nick Franklin’s single and Carlos Triunfel’s double. Abraham Almonte scotched the shot when he grounded out.
But Ibanez tied it in the sixth with a two-out, off-speed shot off AL ERA leader Anibal Sanchez (2.50) with his 28th home run, one behind Ted Williams (1960 Boston Red Sox) for most homers in a season by a player in his 41-year-old season.
Miguel Cabrera sent the Tigers ahead 2-1 in the sixth with his 44th homer, but Michael Saunders tripled and Kendrys Morales doubled in the seventh, tying it. The Mariners then placed a pair of runners in scoring position with one out and a chance to take the lead, but Almonte popped out and Franklin Gutierrez fanned.
Torii Hunter’s sacrifice fly in the seventh scored Iglesias, who had been hit by a pitch.
The Mariners, who have scored 11 runs in the first five games of the road trip, went 1-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base.
ARMS: Starter Brandon Maurer worked 5.0 innings, allowing two earned runs on five hits . . . Seattle employed four relievers, who combined to allow four runs, all earned.
BATS: The Mariners scratched out six hits, including two by Saunders, who lifted his average to .235 . . . Almonte hit from the leadoff hole and went 0-for-5 . . . The top three hitters in the Seattle order, Almonte, Gutierrez and Kyle Seager, went a combined 0-for-13.
QUOTES: “I thought (Brandon) Maurer was a lot better today and gave us his best overall start of the year. I was impressed. He couldn’t take it much further with his pitch count (86 pitches). He kept himself together with his emotions in check. (Mike) Zunino did a great with him” — Eric Wedge, Seattle manager
NOTES: In response to the hot start by Abraham Almonte, Wedge moved the rookie into the leadoff spot for Tuesday’s game. Wedge said Almonte earned the promotion after reaching base in all 13 of his MLB games (streak snapped Tuesday). Almonte led off in numerous games for AAA Tacoma before his promotion to the majors . . . Forrest Snow, a minor league pitcher, received a 50-game suspension without pay Tuesday after a second positive test for a drug abuse in violation of the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. A 6-foot-6 right-hander out of Seattle’s Lakeside High School, Snow was 4-0 with a 2.93 ERA in 19 games for AAA Tacoma this season. He split time between Tacoma and AA Jackson, where he was 1-5 with a 3.00 ERA in 23 relief appearances . . . Shortstop Brad Miller sat out his third straight game with a left hamstring strain. The rookie likely won’t return until this weekend’s series against the Angels . . . The Mariners have allowed 17 stolen bases this month (two more Tuesday) after allowing 15 combined in July and August.
NEXT: The third of four at Comerica Park Wednesday is slated for 4:15 p.m. RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (12-6, 2.87) will work for Seattle opposite RHP Justin Verlander (13-11, 3.66). After the Detroit series, the Mariners will move on to Anaheim for a three-game set with the Angels that will close out Seattle’s road schedule.