A baffling mental error from Robinson Cano and another poor performance from RHP Taijuan Walker doomed the Mariners Wednesday, falling 5-2 to the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The loss (box score) gave LA a three-game sweep and dropped Seattle to 3-6 on the season following a 2-4 road trip.
Trailing 5-2 in the top of the sixth, the Mariners had runners on second and third when 1B Logan Morrison drew a walk. It should have loaded the bases. But, apparently forgetting there was no runner on first, Cano jogged from third base toward home plate.
Cano realized the mistake and tried to break back to third but alert C Yasmani Grandal threw him out at the bag (video). The incredible mental error was the second out of the inning. C Mike Zunino followed by grounding out to end the threat.
How bad was the mistake?
Legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully said he never had seen such a baserunning gaffe during his 66-year career.
After dominating the Cactus League to earn a rotation spot, RHP Taijuan Walker (0-2) had his second consecutive poor start. He lasted just four innings and gave up five runs on six hits and four walks. His ERA jumped to 17.18.
Nelson Cruz showed no signs of stopping his power surge. Facing Dodgers starter Brett Anderson (1-0) in the fourth, he hit a hanging breaking ball over the centerfield wall for a solo home run to cut the lead to 5-1. It marked the fifth consecutive game in which Cruz homered. He went 2-for-3 with a run and and added a walk. Cruz has six home runs and nine RBIs in his past five games.
The consecutive homer streak is the longest of Cruz’s 11-year MLB career and the second longest in Mariners history, trailing only Ken Griffey Jr.’s mark of eight consecutive games with a homer he set in 1993. That tied a major league record.
“Anytime you lose, it’s ugly,” said manager Lloyd McClendon. “Tonight we got in the way of our talents. There’s no question about that.”
McClendon on the starting pitching: “(Walker’s) not the only one. I’m not going to pick on that kid. But if you ask me, ‘Am I concerned with our starting pitching?’ Yes. We got to get better. We got to get deeper into ballgames. We got a real good bullpen but they won’t be worth a darn if we keep running them out there. We got to get better efforts from our starters.”
Cruz’s sixth home run tied him with Jim Presley (1985), Griffey Jr, (’97) and Michael Morse (’13) for the most by a Mariner through the first nine games of the season. Last year with the Orioles, he led the MLB with 40 home runs . . . Wednesday was MLB’s Civil Rights Game. The centerpiece of Jackie Robinson Day, honoring Robinson for breaking baseball’s color barrier April 15, 1947, was the introduction of his widow, Rachel Robinson, 92, and Dodger great Sandy Koufax . . . Cano was 2-for-4 to lift his average to .211.
The Mariners have Thursday off before they begin a three-game series Friday at 7:10 p.m. against the Rangers at Safeco Field, the start of a nine-game homestand. LHP J.A. Happ (0-0, 2.84 ERA) will make his second start of the season after he picked up a no-decision last week when he allowed two runs and seven hits over 6.1 innings against the Athletics. RHP Yovani Gallardo (1-1, 5.59 ERA) gets the nod for Texas.