The Mariners can probably abandon any hopes they entertained of overtaking Texas in the AL West race after the Rangers pummeled Hisashi Iwakuma in a decisive third inning en route to a 6-3 victory Monday night at Globe Life Park in Arlington, TX (box).
Seattle (68-63), which has lost three in a row and six of its past seven, fell 9.5 games behind the Rangers in the division race with 31 games remaining, and also dropped into third place in the AL West behind Houston (69-62), a 6-0 winner over Oakland.
Monday’s consolation: The Mariners remain three back of Baltimore for the second wild card slot after the Orioles lost to Toronto 5-1. But . . . Detroit, Houston and Kansas City are ahead of Seattle for the second wild card.
Iwakuma allowed a first-inning home run to Carlos Beltran, worked effortlessly through the second, and then unraveled in the third as his matchup with Japanese countryman Yu Darvish never materialized.
Elvis Andrus started off the third with a single and stole second. Iwakuma was shelled with a triple (Nomar Mazara), a pair of doubles (Ian Desmond, Beltran) and another single (Jonathan Lucroy) as the Rangers turned five hits, three for extra bases, into a 5-1 lead.
The Mariners collected seven hits (only two for extra bases), six off Darvish, who recorded nine strikeouts against two walks . . . 2B Robinson Cano produced Seattle’s only multi-hit game with a pair of singles . . . 1B Adam Lind accounted for Seattle’s first run with a double that plated 3B Kyle Seager in the fourth . . . Franklin Gutierrez, who entered as a pinch hitter for Seth Smith, had a two-run double in the seventh . . . C Mike Zunino donned the golden sombrero, fanning four times, his average plunging to .226 . . . The Mariners went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven.
Iwakuma came nowhere close to a career-high 15th win, allowing five earned runs on six hits in three innings. He struck out two, walked one. His ERA jumped to 4.01. Iwakuma has lost three consecutive starts . . . Switch-handed pitcher Pat Venditte made his Seattle debut in fourth. Throwing both ways, he allowed one run on one hit in three innings with five strikeouts and one walk. He fanned Texas leadoff hitter Mazara twice. His three innings pitched and five strikeouts were career highs . . . The Mariners acquired Venditte in a trade with Toronto Aug. 6 . . . Arquimedes Caminero and Nick Vincent both pitched scoreless innings.
“He (Iwakuma) left a lot of pitches up in the zone. I thought his stuff was crisp coming out of the first inning, but after that he didn’t execute. The third inning got crazy and Iwakuma threw something like 40 pitches. He just couldn’t get the ball in the bottom of the strike zone. (Pat) Venditte did a great job. I was very impressed. He had just enough funkiness throwing both right and left handed to keep them off balance.” — Mariners manager Scott Servais
“Any time you get to a new ball club you want to get off the right foot. It was very important for me to show them that I can get outs.” — Venditte
The Mariners are 4-9 against Texas this season and have dropped six of their past seven to the Rangers . . . The Mariners are 23-28 against the AL West and 23-20 in the first game of a series . . . The Mariners are 20-13-8 in overall series and and 23-19 in first game of a series . . . Seahawks QB Russell Wilson will throw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to Friday’s game against the Angels at Safeco Field . . . The Mariners extended their working agreement with A Clinton (Iowa) through the 2018 season.
The middle game of the three-game set is Tuesday at 5:05 p.m. PT. LHP James Paxton (4-5, 3.63) will throw for Seattle opposite LHP Cole Hamels (14-4, 2.67). Following the conclusion of the series Wednesday, the Mariners will take Thursday off before starting thr three-game set with the Angels.