OAKLAND – Wasted chances and costly mistakes.
While the cliché would be to say that it sounds like the title of a country or emo song, the Mariners’ status achieves a bitter melancholy far worse than either genre could elicit. And any lyrics that might be written would be filled with curse words and tinged with regret.
The most recent failure, a 6-2 loss to the A’s on Friday night, only added to the prolonged misery that includes a four-game losing streak and losses in 19 of their past 24 games. The Mariners were 18-11 on April 26. They are 23-30 now. Perhaps their only blessing is that rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi is starting Saturday. They’ve picked up victories in five of his past six starts.
The most glaring reason for defeat? Their failure to take advantage of the multitude of runners they put on base. The Mariners stranded 15 runners. It probably would have been 16 if Mitch Haniger hadn’t been picked off. The club record for most runners left on base in one game is 18, set June 27, 2008, vs. San Diego.
Facing reliever/starter Daniel Mengden and his waxed mustache, the Mariners managed to score one run in four innings while leaving the bases loaded in the first, two runners on in the second, bases loaded in the third and another base runner in the fourth.
That one run came in the first, when Daniel Vogelbach scored from second on a two-out single by Domingo Santana. The Mariners were actually fortunate that A’s first baseman Matt Olson cut off a throw from Ramon Laureano that was headed for home. Replays showed that it had a chance to get the less-than-fleet Vogelbach.
Mariners starter Wade LeBlanc cruised through the first three innings without incident, allowing his first hit in the third. That base runner was quickly erased when the next batter, Nick Hundley, hit into an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play.
But his outing fell apart in the fourth inning as he faced the A’s for a second time. After watching LeBlanc pound the strike zone for early called strikes and seeing the widening strike zone of home plate umpire Bill Welke, the A’s switched their approach and it worked.
After Marcus Semien worked a leadoff walk, Oakland’s middle of the order got ultra-aggressive early in the count. The next four batters – Chad Pinder, Matt Chapman, Stephen Piscotty and Matt Olson – all took vicious swings at the first pitch of their at-bats, with varying levels of success. J.P. Crawford caught Pinder’s rocket for the first out. Chapman hit a fly ball to Haniger for the second out. But that third out was elusive. Piscotty’s line drive was just out of the reach of a leaping Crawford for a single. But the gut punch was a misplaced first-pitch curveball in Olson’s preferred swing path which resulted in a booming three-run homer to deep right-center and a 3-1 lead.
The scoring wasn’t finished. Mark Canha waited till the second pitch of his at-bat to club a 1-0 fastball into the left field for back-to-back homers and a 4-1 lead.
It took a while, but the Mariners got one of those runs back with a rare hit with a runner in scoring position. Domingo Santana hit a one-out double over the head of Ramon Laureano in center. He later scored on Tim Beckham’s two-out double to left field.