A leaky bullpen and more defensive gaffes continued to haunt the Mariners Tuesday night in a 6-3 come-from-ahead loss to the Houston Astros at Safeco Field (box score). At 5-9, Seattle is off to a blunder-filled start, while 8-6 Houston sits atop the American League West.
For the second consecutive night, the bullpen couldn’t hold to a lead. Ahead 3-1 Tuesday in the eighth inning, Charlie Furbush and Danny Farquhar came undone after Robinson Cano began the frame bobbling a grounder for an error. Later in the inning, Chris Carter and No. 9 hitter Jake Marisnick added RBI singles to tie at 3. Altuve followed with a bases-clearing, three-RBI double to complete a five-run inning.
After two terrible starts, RHP Taijuan Walker was effectively wild in his third outing of the season. It took him 101 pitches (62 strikes) to get through 5.1 innings, but he allowed one run on four hits, four walks and one hit batter while striking out eight. The outing dropped his ERA from 17.18 to 10.66.
On a cold night, hits were hard to come by for both teams. Cano’s RBI groundout in the first inning staked Seattle a 1-0 lead. An RBI single in the third provided a 2-1 advantage after Houston evened the score. Cano finished 1-for-4 with two RBIs. SS Brad Miller also had an RBI single, in the fourth, to make it 3-1.
“We had a lot of good things going for us tonight and obviously it’s tough to lose them like this,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Anytime you lose games late, that you got a grasp around, you think you should win, they’re always tough. And this one stings a little bit.”
Reliever Tom Wilhelmsen, on the 15-day disabled list with a hyperextended right elbow, will start throwing Friday, then throw a bullpen on the next road trip, McClendon said. Wilhelmsen might have to make a rehab start. He was placed on the 15-day DL April 13, retroactive to April 11 . . . RF/DH Nelson Cruz entered Tuesday with a majors-leading eight home runs in his first 13 games. That tied him for seventh most through a club’s first 13 games in MLB history. Cruz went 0-for-4 Tuesday to snap a nine-game hitting streak… Walker is 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA in five career starts against the Astros. His eight strikeouts Tuesday tied a career-high . . . Cano extended his hitting streak to eight games. He’s hitting .424 (14-for-33) with five doubles, one homer and five RBIs during that span . . . Kyle Seager has reached safely in each of his last 12 games, a stretch in which he batted .348 (16-for-46).
Among starters, only ace Felix Hernandez has pitched better than LHP J.A. Happ, who is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in two starts. He allowed two runs over seven innings his last outing but didn’t receive much run support in a 3-1 loss to the Rangers. The Astros counter Wednesday with RHP Roberto Hernandez (0-1, 3.38 ERA), a 34-year-old that won a rotation spot with a strong spring training after signing a minor league deal in February.