The Seattle Mariners have the worst record in the American League.
In a season full of disappointment, RHP Mark Lowe served up the deflating blow Monday, an eighth-inning, two-run homer from Tigers 2B Ian Kinsler — his second blast of the game — that sent the Mariners to a 5-4 loss (box score) at Comerica Park in the series opener.
The defeat dropped the Mariners, a hip choice to make the playoffs before the season, to 42-51. For the second day in a row, and the third time in the past four games, a Seattle reliever allowed a deciding homer late.
Oft-criticized reliever Fernando Rodney wasn’t used Monday after he allowed the go-ahead homer Sunday to Yankees 1B Mark Teixeira.
Lowe (0-1), who entered with a 0.62 ERA and allowed two runs in 29 appearances, was the goat instead. Facing Kinsler with two outs, he jumped ahead 1-2, then piped a 96-mile-per-hour fastball that Kinsler crushed well beyond the left-field wall for his fifth homer.
It was Lowe’s first run allowed since June 14.
C Mike Zunino went 2-for-3 with a walk, raising his batting average to .163. Not exactly Hall of Fame numbers, but the oft-criticized former No. 3 overall pick from the 2012 draft at least looked the part of a big-league hitter during his at-bat in the second inning.
With the bases loaded, Zunino worked an eight-pitch at-bat against Tigers starter Alfredo Simon, driving in two when he lined a double off Comerica Park’s center-field wall, 420 feet from home plate.
In the top of the sixth, Zunino lined a two-out RBI single off Simon for a 4-3 lead. It ended the right-hander’s day and represented the type of high-leverage hit the Mariners have so often failed to deliver.
2B Robinson Cano, meanwhile, continued his recent hot streak, hitting an opposite-field solo homer in the fifth inning. Cano finished 2-for-4 and lifted his average to .255.
LHP J.A. Happ was recalled from Class A Bakersfield earlier in the day while former top prospect Jesus Montero went back to Triple-A Tacoma.
In his first start since July 8, Happ was solid. He allowed three runs on four hits and two walks over seven innings while striking out two. He was at 87 pitches when Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon lifted him after seven.
“It was a combination of things,” McClendon said of replacing Happ. “We had those tough righties coming up. There were not a lot of easy at-bats tonight for him. They were grinding some at-bats. And we had Lowe up. His ERA was (0.62). We had the guy in there we wanted. It just didn’t work out.”
The Mariners trail the fourth-place Oakland Athletics (43-51) by a half-game in the American League West . . . They are 1-3 on their seven-game road trip. Every loss has been by one run . . . The Mariners have lost 15 times this season in the opponents’ final at-bat, most in the AL . . . 3B Kyle Seager went 0-for-5, ending his nine-game hitting streak . . . Cano has nine homers . . . The Mariners are 7-9 in July.
The Mariners continue their four-game series Tuesday at 4:08 p.m. PT. RHP Taijuan Walker (7-7, 4.84 ERA) is up against against Detroit RHP Shane Greene (4-7, 6.32 ERA).