Despite four solo home runs in the series finale at Comerica Park Thursday, a string of misplays in the 10th inning gave the Tigers a 5-4 triumph over the Mariners, including a walk-off wild pitch by closer Steve Cishek that brought in the decider (box). Swept in a four-game series for the first time this season, the Mariners are 36-37 and below .500 for the first time since April 23.
In the 10th and tied at 4, 2B Shawn O’Malley singled, and subsequently made it to third when pitcher Kyle Ryan air-mailed a pick-off attempt into right-field foul territory. With one out, LF Seth Smith hit a soft grounder to 2B Ian Kinsler. O’Malley ran on contact but was caught in a rundown for the second out.
In the bottom of the inning, Cishek walked Steven Moya with one out. Pinch-runner Cameron Maybin made it to third when, after a PH Victor Martinez single to left, Smith’s wild throw wasn’t caught by 3B Kyle Seager, both runners advancing. After an intentional walk loaded the bases and brought up Kinsler, a Cishek pitch went wide and in the dirt past C Chris Iannetta to allow the winning run.
After a day off, DH Nelson Cruz hit homers in the fourth and sixth innings, bringing his season total to 18. Iannetta and CF Leonys Martin hit back-to-back home runs in the top of the fifth. But the Mariners had only four other hits and were 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Robinson Cano was robbed of a three-run homer when LF Justin Upton went over the wall to catch his deep fly.
As if three injuries in the starting rotation weren’t enough, emergency starter Adrian Sampson, set to make his second MLB appearance, didn’t get to the first pitch. During his final warm-up throws, Sampson felt right elbow discomfort, forcing manager Scott Servais to call Vidal Nuno from the bullpen to start the game.
Nuno lasted 3.1 innings, giving up four runs on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts. Four other relievers preceded Cishek, the last available pitcher who came on in the ninth and pitched out of trouble until he pitched back into it in the 10th.
“Snake-bit is a term you could use. I thought the pitching staff was phenomenal. They really competed their tails off today, just couldn’t get it done at the end.” – Servais on the Sampson injury
The Mariners are 9-20 when starting pitchers last six innings or fewer. Seattle is 27-16 when the starter goes more than six innings . . .The six losses in a row are a season high . . . 11 of Seattle’s past 14 games have been decided by two runs or less . . . The Mariners are 14-21 in games decided by two runs or less.
Seattle begins a nine-game home stand with a three-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at 7:10 p.m. Friday. Wade LeBlanc, 31, picked up this week in a trade but who hasn’t started a big-league game since 2014, is expected to to start for Seattle, although it was not yet official. St. Louis startrs RHP Carlos Martinez (7-5, 3.17 ERA).