The excuse wasn’t being used by the Mariners after the game, but they certainly could not be faulted for showing some weariness Monday in their return home from an 11-day road trip after a six-hour flight from Boston. Flat or not, Seattle (71-59) was held to three hits over eight shutout innings by Rangers rookie Miles Mikolas in a 2-0 loss in front of 21,620 at Safeco Field.
The 26-year-old Mikolas showed excellent command of a 93-96 mph fastball and good feel for an assortment of off-speed offerings in quieting an M’s offense averaging five runs per game in August. Logan Morrison, who had two hits, thought the right-hander had a deceptive fastball.
“I thought he had good stuff,” Morrison said. “His fastball jumps on you . . . His breaking balls were tight and kept us off balance. I think he threw strikes and missed barrels, and even when we did hit him hard, they found gloves.
“It’s not an excuse, but the six-hour flight probably didn’t help things.”
On the heels of a 6-3 road trip concluded with a sweep of the Red Sox, Seattle hoped for a soft landing with three games against Texas (50-79), the hard luck story of 2014.
Injuries forced the Rangers to use an MLB-high 57 players, including 18 rookies, due to the loss of 10 projected starters. The Rangers entered Monday having lost 44 of its last 59 games. Despite those numbers, the Rangers improved to 8-5 against Seattle, winning four of the last five.
One turn removed from a four-inning, six-walk performance versus the Phillies, Roenis Elias showed similar signs of command problems with four walks over five innings and 101 pitches. But like his previous start, he was able to escape trouble, limiting the Rangers to one run when J.P. Arencibia’s single scored Elvis Andrus with one out in the fourth inning.
The Rangers tacked on a second run in the seventh against reliever Brandon Maurer when two infield singles and a Robinson Cano throwing error led to an RBI groundout by Rougned Odor. After Mikolas hit 91 pitches, Neftali Feliz pitched around an Austin Jackson one-out hit to earn his seventh save.
At 148.2 innings between Class AAA and the majors, the 25-year-old Elias seems to be hitting a wall.
“He was his own worst enemy tonight, he battled the whole night with his command,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. ”I’m not sure what it is, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but we’ve got to get him straightened out. He’s got to go deeper into ball games.”
McClendon doesn’t think it’s due to fatigue.
“I don’t think so,” McClendon said. “Stuff-wise, his stuff is very quality. You can see they don’t score off of him. He just gets his pitch count up, (and) he gets himself into trouble.”
McClendon likewise was unconcerned with the team’s sixth loss in its last 21 games.
“As good as we’ve been — and I hate to break the news — we’re going to lose a few games, and we’re probably going to lose a few games we should win,” McClendon said. “That’s baseball. It’s hard to win at this level every night. As disappointed as people are — and I’m sure the world is probably caving in tonight — we’ll be OK tomorrow.”
The rotation for the homestand was adjusterd by pushing Felix Hernandez to Friday against the Nationals, opening Wednesday’s start against the Rangers. An announcement on the starting pitcher will come Tuesday . . . With two hits Monday, Morrison is hitting .345 with 10 RBI in the past 22 games . . . Prior to seventh inning Monday, the Seattle bullpen allowed one run in its last 20.1 innings, posting an 0.47 ERA . . . With his throw-out of Daniel Robertson in the third inning, Mike Zunino has caught 19 base-stealers . . . Rangers rookie catcher Tomas Telis recorded his first major-league hit in the seventh inning, a bunt single against Maurer.