BY Steve Rudman 06:30AM 05/08/2015

Mariners perfect art of walk-off loss (5 so far)

The Mariners (11-17), with three walk-off losses on the just-completed 10-game road trip, are on a pace to shatter the franchise record for most walk-off defeats in a single season.

Mike Schooler yielded a record 15 walk-off hits during his Seattle career (1988-92). / Topps

“We’ll turn the page. There are good days ahead for this ballclub. This is a very good ballclub and they’re built to win. It’s a long season. This team will be okay.”

Lloyd McClendon issued those optimistic remarks to reporters Wednesday night following a 4-3 Mariners gag to the L.A. Angels that ended one of the lamer road trips of McClendon’s tenure.

After sweeping last-place Texas, not easily, the Mariners were broomed in four at Houston before losing two of three to the Angels. Included in the six defeats: three walk-offs, one by the Astros and pair to end the Angels series.

Projected to reach the post-season, and even the World Series by some makers of odds, the Mariners already have five walk-off defeats, tied for the MLB lead with the Pittsburgh Pirates. By contrast, 12 teams have zero walk-off losses and 11 others have one.

The Mariners already have more walk-off losses than they had in the entire 1981 (3), 1985 (1), 1987 (3), 1994 (3), 1996 (4), 2005 (3) and 2007 (2) seasons. Twenty-nine games into their schedule, the Mariners are nearly halfway to the franchise record of 13, set in 2011 and matched in 2013.

In their 38+ seasons, the Mariners have walked off a sudden loser 301 times, most infamously May 17, 1996 at Camden Yards in Baltimore when, leading the Orioles 13-10 entering the bottom ninth, they lost 14-13 on a Chris Hoiles grand slam off Norm Charlton.

The Mariners didn’t make any walk-off history on the road trip, but they came close Monday when Los Angeles’s Carlos Perez, in his major league debut, connected for a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Angels a 5-4 victory.

Two things about that: Perez became the fourth player in the era of divisional play (since 1969) to hit a walk-off homer in his debut game, joining:

Year Date Player Team Opp. Walk-Off Hit
1971 Sept. 9 Billy Parker LAA Milw HR off Floyd Weaver in 12th
2002 Aug. 23 Josh Bard Cle Sea HR off James Baldwin in 9th
2003 June 20 Miguel Cabrera Fla TB HR off Al Levine in 9th
2015 May 5 Carlos Perez LAA Sea HR off Dominic Leone in 9th

Talk about tortured history: The Mariners are now the only team in the divisional era to twice watch an opposing rookie belt a walk-off homer in his major league debut.

Dominic Leone, who served up the gopher ball to Perez, has lost three times via walk-off this season (also April 13 against the Dodgers in Chavez Ravine and April 30 at Houston), placing him halfway to the single-season franchise record of six walk-off losses, established by Mike Schooler in 1988.

Schooler is actually more notorious for what went wrong in 1992 than for his spree of walk-off gags in ’88. In 1992, “Schools” allowed seven homers, all costing the Mariners wins, and four were grand salamis, tying the American League single-season record.

“I am the epitome of grand slamness,” Schooler said in a quote for the anthologies.

Schooler also holds another record, perhaps more unbreakable than Ichiro’s 262 hits in 2004. During his Mariner career (1988-92), Schooler surrendered 15 walk-off hits. He not only predictably gave up walk-off homers, but in a display of negative virtuosity had two walk-off walks, a walk-off sac fly and a walk-off wild pitch.

On the career chart, Schooler is three clear of the much-loathed Bobby Ayala for most walk-off hits surrendered:

Pitcher Career W/O Hits Skinny
Mike Schooler 1988-92 15 Team-record 6 walk-off hits in 1988
Bobby Ayala 1994-98 12 Nadir in 1998: 8 saves, 9 blown saves
Mike Jackson 1988-91, ’95 10 Allowed 4 of 10 walk-off hits in 1991
Enrique Romo 1977-78 8 Yielded 4 of 8 walk-off hits in 1977
Shane Rawley 1978-81 8 Traded by Seattle to NYY in 1981
Brandon League 2010-12 8 Back-to-back walk-off losses May 12-13
Norm Charlton 1993, ’95-97 7 Suffered three walk-off losses in 1996

The Mariners have lost 29 times via walk-off in consecutive road games, making the next big date on the calendar May 19, when Seattle begins a nine-game road trip with the first of three at Camden Yards, site of the Hoiles walk-off salami in 1996. A walk-off loss that night would set a franchise record for consecutive games (3) vexed in an opponent’s final at-bat.

Felix On Sunday

Felix Hernandez (5-0, 1.73) will close out the three-game Oakland series Sunday at Safeco Field opposite RHP Jesse Chavez (1-2, 1.80), who lost to the Mariners 5-4 April 11. Hernandez is 5-0 for the first time in his career and can join a short list of Seattle starters to start a season 6-0 or better. The list:

Year Pitcher Start Skinny
2001 Aaron Sele 8-0 Didn’t make All-Star team, finished 15-5, 3.60
1999 John Halama 7-0 Started as reliever, went 7-0 after joining rotation
1980 Rick Honeycutt 6-0 Lost his next eight in a row and finished 10-17
1995 Randy Johnson 6-0 Went 18-2, AL-best 2.48, won Cy Young award
2000 John Halama 6-0 Faded as season progressed, finished 14-9, 5.08 ERA
2001 Freddy Garcia 6-0 Went 18-6, led AL with 3.05 ERA for 116-win team

There is no way of telling how Hernandez’s fast start will play out. Rick Honeycutt (1980) started 6-0 but finished with a losing record. Randy Johnson also started 6-0 and won the Cy Young.

Next

The Mariners begin a nine-game home stand Friday that will include appearances by Oakland (3), San Diego (2) and Boston (4). Taijuan Walker (1-3, 8.74) will start the Oakland series opener against Athletics ace Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.67), who had a no-decision against the Mariners April 11.


YourThoughts

  • Sam Base

    The Mariners seem to have taken the “walk-off” loss to artistic heights only a mad artist would dream of. And the fans are the lucky recipients. It’s having an effect, at least on me. I’m now waking up suddenly during the night while having “walk-off” nightmares. I do believe I now have “walk-off” PTSD. I might just start a support group.

  • Its onlySports(DavidWakefield)

    That is absurd.The 1981(3) and 2007(2)seasons had 5 combined,29 games into 2015 they have 5.Take those 5 losses and go the other way with a win and nobody’s going chicken little on 2015.
    This is a sad testament of how amazing their pitching was last year and how”not” they are this year. Leone being sent down to begin the season seems to be in his head as he has “pressed” to hold onto his job rather than pitch freely like he did last year.
    Then with the offense its feast or famine~heavy on the famine if you take out a few guys.
    So much talent on this squad yet they have the cohesion of an asteroid field.

  • Jamo57

    Any mention of Mike Schooler automatically brings to mind Lou Pinella. Whenever discussion turns to HOF managers, of which Lou is obviously borderline as he only won one World Series, I justify him as a clear case of a manager who deserves to be inducted. After all, he’s the only manager to get the Ms into the post season, which he did four times. An accomplishment that is equal to or greater than adding another Series win or two to his resume.

    • Edgar Martinez

      Not sure why he brings to mind Lou. Piniella never managed Schooler.

      • Jamo57

        He released him in spring training, which brought on one of the great lines of all time. Paraphrasing as I don’t have time to track it down, Schooler disparaging the new skipper and the decision: “All Pinella cares about is winning.”

  • jafabian

    Unlike when Schooler, Ayala and the other mentioned began having problems right now it’s nearly the entire bullpen and some starters. Their approach to the game isn’t working. Not sure if simply the return of Tom Wilhelmsen is going to get things back on track.