In losing 8-4 to Arizona Tuesday night at Safeco, the Mariners did something that they have done only twice previously in July — lose back-to-back games. That might be a good thing, had it not been for the fact that the Mariners have won back-to-back games only once in July. At least it only took nine innings this time.
While Mariners Nelson Cruz and Mike Zunino each contributed a mammoth home run, it was the bases-loaded double from Arizona’s Chris Owings in the sixth that made the most noise. The two runs turned a close game into a blowout while saddling Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma with his worst line of the season.
If Tuesday night’s start was an audition, then Iwakuma won’t have to worry about changing addresses anytime soon. The veteran’s final start before Friday’s trade deadline was one of his worst. Iwakuma gave up season highs of 10 hits and six earned runs over 5.2 innings. GM Jack Zduriencik’s phone probably wasn’t blowing up afterward.
LHP David Rollins didn’t provide much relief in his 1.2 innings of work, but he did make the defensive play of the night while out-running Arizona leadoff hitter Ender Inciarte to first base for an unassisted putout to end the sixth.
Zunino has come out of his slump in a big way over the past week, not that it came in time to save the Mariners’ season. He hit a 452-foot home run on the first pitch he saw Monday, and if not for a couple of nice plays by opposing leftfielders, it very well could have been his third homer in as many games.
Cruz opened the sixth in similar fashion, hammering the first pitch from Arizona starter Zack Godley 440 feet above the left-field scoreboard. SS Brad Miller drove in a pair of runs with a sixth-inning double and a single off the wall in the ninth. Miller hadn’t driven in multiple runs in a game since July 3.
“It’s tough, but nobody feels sorry for you in this game. We’ve got to continue to grind it out, continue to get better. We’ll come out (Wednesday) and try to win a ball game.” – manager Lloyd McClendon
Zunino’s 452-foot homer was the third-longest in Safeco Field history, trailing only 462 feet by Barry Bonds (6/16/06 off Felix Hernandez) and 460 feet by Raul Ibañez (6/20/07 off Dan Kolb) . . . Arizona CF A.J. Pollock stole second base during Tuesday’s first inning, which was notable because Iwakuma had not allowed a stolen base since September 2013, having gone 35 starts without allowing a steal. Opposing baserunners, of which there were 239 in that span, were a combined 0-for-9 against Iwakuma before Pollock . . .Former Mariner Welington Castillo was not in the lineup, having been hit in the elbow twice in a span of three games. No damage was structural, but there’s a good chance the catcher has played his last game of the series . . .LF Dustin Ackley got a rare start Tuesday, his first of the homestand. Ackley has been in the lineup four times since July 10. Since OF Mark Trumbo was acquired June 3, Ackley has started 16 times.
A beautiful day, an afternoon game and King Felix on the mound. It lines up to be a pretty good day at Safeco Field on Wednesday. RHP Felix Hernandez (12-5, 2.69 ERA) has had plenty of success in afternoon starts – he’s 3-1 with a 1.72 ERA this season and 8-1 with a 1.53 ERA over the past two seasons. Hernandez is scheduled to face Arizona starter Patrick Corbin (1-3, 3.68 ERA) on Wednesday. First pitch is scheduled for 12:40 p.m.