The Mariners, who are going to have a difficult, if not impossible, time coming up with a positive message to sell the 2014 season, ended 2013 with a kind of lame effort that has characterized their entire campaign. A 9-0 loss to the Oakland Athletics, played out in front of 17,081 at Safeco Field, ended another woeful year with a 71-91 record, the fourth time in six seasons with 90+ defeats.
With departing manager Eric Wedge twice in the past two days trashing the club’s front-office “vision,” or lack of same, for the future, the Mariners posted their fourth consecutive losing season and 12th sans playoffs. To end 2013, the Mariners lost nine of 14 and 14 of 20. Seattle’s 9-18 September marked the fourth consecutive year that the Mariners failed to win in double digits in the season’s final month.
At the heart of the 71-91 record: Seattle went 19-29 in one-run games, 6-15 in extra innings, sustained 13 walk-off losses, and 27 losses in their opponents’ final at-bat. At the heart of that: the Mariners hit .229 with runners in scoring position, failing to capitalize on dozens of opportunities that could have made a difference.
The season-ender featured little drama. The Athletics scored four times in the second, four more times in the fifth and added a so-what run in the ninth. The Mariners, who had five hits, none for extra bases, stranded nine and went 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position.
The Athletics battered starter Erasmo Ramirez in the second, scoring four runs on Chris Young’s two-run single and run-scoring doubles by Seth Smith and Brandon Moss. Ramirez only made it through 1.1 innings after allowing all four runs on three hits and a walk.
The Athletics added four more in the fifth on Alberto Callaspo’s run-scoring single, Josh Reddick’s run-scoring double and Daric Barton’s two-run single. Oakland’s final tally came in the ninth on Andy Parrino’s run-scoring double.
In the ninth, Raul Ibanez, with 29 home runs, came to bat for the final time in 2013. Sitting on 29 home runs, he had a chance to break a tie with Ted Williams for most home runs in a season by a 41-year-old. But his at-bat ended in a fly ball to left, which drew a standing ovation from the Safeco Field crowd.
“It was a special moment, and I’ll never forget it,” Ibanez told Root Sports. “The ovation was great. I’m okay with tying Ted Williams; it’s a great honor even to be associated with Ted Williams.”
Of now ex-manger Eric Wedge, Ibanez said, “He’s a warrior, day in and day out. I’m always going to remember how great he was with us. I like where the team is headed, I think great things can happen here.”
ARMS: After Ramirez departed, Hector Noesi threw 3.0 innings, allowing four earned runs on four hits with two strikeouts and a walk. Noesi finished with a 6.59 ERA . . . Bobby LaFromboise and Carter Capps worked 3.1 scoreless innings.
BATS: Brad Miller, who hit two homers, including a grand slam Saturday, had two hits Sunday and finished his rookie season with a .265 average . . . Dustin Ackley went 1-for-3 and finished at .253, and Nick Franklin 0-for-3 for a .225 mark.
QUOTES: “I told them (the players) how much I appreciated their effort and how much I cared about them. I wanted to get in front of them and thank them and tell them that. These young players are in the process of learning how to win ball games. For me, this is tough. I wanted to see this thing through. But it became clear it’s not going to happen, I’ll move on to the next adventure. It was just painfully clear to me this was not going to work and you make the decision to move on.” — Eric Wedge, ex-Seattle manager, in his final press conference Sunday
NOTES: Wedge, who twice since Friday said that he didn’t agree with the “direction” the Mariners are taking, had a more positive spin pre-game Sunday on his final day as the club’s skipper, telling mariners.com, “The encouraging thing here for the fans is, they’ve got to look at the close losses and late-inning losses and see we were right there. It’s a pitch or play or an at-bat that’s the difference. But the experience they gained this year is really going to come back to them . . . I think one thing the fans have to look forward to next year is the fact all these kids will be there from the outset. That’s pretty exciting, with all the experience from this year. Those are all positives.” . . . Wedge finished his Seattle career with a 212-273 record and no winning seasons.
NEXT: The Mariners open Cactus League play Feb. 27 vs. the San Diego Padres at Peoria (AZ.) Stadium. Seattle will play at Safeco Field April 8, 2014, in its home opener against the L.A. Angels.