The Mariners had shaky pitching, no clutch hitting and atrocious defense, adding up to an 8-1 loss to the Astros Sunday at Safeco (box). Seattle committed a season-high four errors while going 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position and hitting into five double plays. The Mariners’ last chance to close the gap with Houston before mid-September melted like a sidewalk popsicle.
With the bases loaded and one out in the first inning, 3B Kyle Seager stepped in against struggling Houston starter Collin McHugh and drilled a long fly ball toward the seats in right. The ball drifted just outside the foul pole. Instead of a grand slam that would have given the Mariners a 4-1 lead, Seager had a long strike. He ended up whiffing, Seattle left three runners on base, and McHugh gained some confidence.
Starter Mike Montgomery wasn’t horrible, but he didn’t get a lot of help from Seattle’s defense. He was charged with three earned runs off seven hits over five innings. Converted starter Nathan Karns had the worst day, a four-run seventh inning thanks to a Carlos Gomez grand slam. Relievers Tom Wilhelmsen and Joaquin Benoit had some success, each working an inning of relief.
Seager drove in the Mariners’ run with a single in the eighth, but otherwise he had a horrible day – both with the bat and with his glove. In addition to committing two of Seattle’s four errors, Seager struck out in his first three at-bats while stranding seven runners. The Mariners left 10 runners, having loaded the bases in three innings without anything to show for it. RF Nelson Cruz, having returned from a game off to deal with a sore foot, had two hits. Seattle hit into five double plays, which is a hard thing to do in a nine-inning game.
“That’s the worst game we played all year. We messed up five or six plays in the field. We played a terrible ball game; you can’t sugarcoat that. It’s disappointing, disheartening, whatever. Games like that are going to happen during a season. It just can’t happen against a team that’s ahead of you in the standings.” – Mariners manager Scott Servais
The Mariners officially named RHP Felix Hernandez as Wednesday’s starter. Hernandez hasn’t pitched since May 27, (disabled list, strained calf). Seattle will have to make a roster move before activating him . . . SS Ketel Marte (ankle) and Cruz were back in the lineup . . . C Jesus Sucre had his second consecutive start as starter Chris Iannetta gets time off to work on his swing. Iannetta is healthy but has gone hitless in his past four starts and is hitting .116 since June 24.
The Mariners open a three-game series against the White Sox, with Chicago ace and Cy Young frontrunner Chris Sale (14-3, 3.38 ERA) scheduled to take the mound at 7 p.m. Monday. Seattle will counter with LHP Wade LeBlanc, who is neither an ace nor a Cy Young contender. LeBlanc (1-0, 3.52 ERA) had two good starts to open his Seattle career but is coming off a rough outing in Houston.