Another weak game with runners in scoring position for the Mariners Wednesday resulted in a 4-3 defeat at Texas rather than a two-game series sweep and a winning road trip.
Shin-Soo Choo’s solo home run in the fifth inning held up as the difference after the Mariners failed to come through with opportunities to tie or take the lead in the sixth, seventh and eighth innings. Seattle went 1-for-6 with RISP.
It was a struggle for starting pitcher Chris Young as he again had a tough time keeping the ball down, a carry-over from his last start lost vs. Minnesota. Texas took advantage with a big first inning behind a two-run home run by Elvis Andrus and an Alex Rios RBI single for a 3-0 lead before a single out was recorded.
The Mariners were fortunate to hold the deficit to three. Young threw 34 pitches in the inning and stranded three baserunners as the Rangers sent nine men to the plate. He recovered over the next three innings to hold Texas scoreless and allow the M’s to tie the game.
Seattle (22-23) managed just one hit off of Rangers’ starter Nick Tepesch (1-0, 3.09 ERA) the first time through the batting order. But in the fourth inning, the offense did some damage.
James Jones led off with a triple and Michael Saunders followed with an RBI single. Robinson Cano hit a 2-2 pitch to dead center for his second home run to tie the score. Cano, a DH for the third time this season, batted 2-for-4 for and improved his average to .326.
Texas regained the lead for good when Choo homered to left-center. A former Mariner, Choo was 2-for-3 with two runs scored.
Young (3-2, 3.53) gutted through 6.1 innings, in which he gave up seven hits and three walks for four runs. He had just one strikeout.
Seattle’s best chance to tie or take the lead came in the seventh when Dustin Ackley and reserve catcher John Buck walked to put runners on first and second with one out. Rangers manager Ron Washington pulled Tepesch and brought in left-handed reliever Robbie Ross. Seattle’s Lloyd McClendon countered by having right-handed hitter Stefen Romero pinch-hit for Brad Miller. However, Romero promptly grounded into a double play.
A final scoring opportunity came in the eighth when Jones led off with a walk and was sacrificed to second by Saunders. But Cano and Seager struck out, thanks to a generous strike zone from home plate umpire Jeff Kellogg, certainly helping reliever Neal Cotts.
Seattle returns home after a 2-3 trip for its longest homestand of the year a game below .500 and seven games behind the red-hot Oakland Athletics (29-16), who have won 10 of their past 11 games. The Mariners host Houston (4 games), L.A. Angels (4) and Detroit (3).