Rangers beat Mariners with 10th-inning explosion
Texas continued to take the luster off the Mariners' uplifting weekend against Oakland, scoring six runs Tuesday in the top of the 10th for a 7-2 victory and a sweep of their two-game series.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Mariners' next five games
Wednesday | @ Kansas City, 5:10 p.m., FSN
Silva (1-2, 7.36) vs. Ponson (0-4, 7.16)
Thursday | @ Kansas City, 11:10 a.m., FSN
Washburn (3-1, 2.97) vs. Bannister (2-0, 1.96)
Friday | @ Minnesota, 5:10 p.m., FSN
Jakubauskas (1-3, 5.76) vs. Baker (0-4, 9.15)
Saturday | @ Minnesota, 4:10 p.m., FSN
Hernandez (4-1, 3.38) vs. Liriano (1-4, 5.30)
Sunday | @ Minnesota, 11:10 a.m., FSN
Bedard (2-1, 2.37) vs. Blackburn (2-2, 5.19)
The old Monkees tune "I'm a Believer" coursed through Safeco Field on Tuesday as the Mariners faced the bottom of the 10th inning in front of a crowd that had dwindled to well under five digits.
Belief only takes you so far, however, not usually as far as six-run deficits, and the M's followed their uplifting weekend against Oakland by getting swept in a two-game series against the Rangers, losing the finale, 7-2 in 10 innings.
It already strained credulity when the M's went to the 10th tied 1-1, inasmuch as they had been outhit, 11-1. That chasm grew to 16-1 by the middle of the inning.
And guess what? The rousing 15-inning victory Sunday against Oakland came home to roost, as a beleaguered Mariners bullpen came unraveled in the 10th inning against the Rangers, six of whom reached base consecutively, the last of them Jarrod Saltalamacchia on a grand slam.
When it was over, Don Wakamatsu, the Mariners manager, was left to sound what has been a persistent refrain in an otherwise hopeful start.
"The offense needed to pick up the pitching," he said, "and it didn't."
It was an altogether sour ending for the M's, who not only made it a losing homestand (2-3) but now appear likely to be without reliever Shawn Kelley for an extended period with what the club described as a strained oblique muscle on his left side.
Kelley, a breakthrough so far with a 1.54 earned-run average in 10 games, began the 10th inning for the M's as their fourth pitcher of the day. On his second pitch to Rangers rookie Elvis Andrus, he toed the dirt in front of the mound and gave signs of feeling uncomfortable.
"There was a little hesitancy," said catcher Rob Johnson.
On the third pitch, Kelley delivered, wheeled to his left and simply caved in, falling on his back in pain, and was helped off the field.
"All signs would seem to indicate this is going to be a little bit of time to recover," said Wakamatsu. "He was doing such a phenomenal job. To be able to have depth in the sixth, seventh, eighth innings ... he just kept climbing the ladder. So it's pretty devastating."
Already, closer Brandon Morrow is out, though due to return by the weekend. So the M's will begin an eight-game trip today in Kansas City with a new pitcher, possibly 29-year-old right-hander Eric Hull, a Yakima native who has a 2.76 ERA in 15-1/3 innings at Tacoma.
Because of the heavy attrition to the bullpen Sunday and Felix Hernandez's ineffectiveness Monday night, Sean White and Miguel Batista were unavailable and Wakamatsu had to replace Kelley with Denny Stark, who was making his third straight appearance after an injury-caused hiatus of five years.
Stark got the first two Rangers before it all came apart. Four straight Texas hitters singled to make it 3-1, he walked Chris Davis and Saltalamacchia climaxed the explosion with his slam to right-center.
"With that 15-inning ballgame, you do have some repercussions," Wakamatsu said.
Stark minimized the notion that coming into the game cold, even allowed as much time as he needed to get ready, played a part.
"I've done that in the past," he said. "It just wasn't my day."
Nor was it one for Mariners hitters, completely shackled by Rangers starter Vicente Padilla, who allowed a single hit over eight innings. Wakamatsu noted the fact the M's let Padilla off the hook so easily, as a pitcher who had only gotten into the seventh inning once in five starts had to throw only 39 pitches through four innings.
"A critical thing," said Wakamatsu. "It allows them to get deeper into the game and save their bullpen."
Erik Bedard threw well again for the M's, but the margin for error was minuscule after the M's scratched out a run without a hit in the sixth. Bedard allowed Nelson Cruz's solo homer in the seventh to tie it.
"Our offense needs to pick up our pitching," Wakamatsu repeated.
Swept for the first time this year, the M's take a 15-12 record to KC, Minnesota and Texas before returning home May 15 against Boston.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or email@example.com
For the record
vs. AL West: 9-5
vs. L.A.: 4-2
vs. Oakland: 5-1
vs. Texas: 0-2
vs. AL East: 2-1
vs. AL Cent.: 4-6
vs. NL: 0-0
vs. LHP: 7-1
vs. RHP: 8-11
Extra inn.: 2-1
Tuesday's crowd: 19,810
Season total: 356,377
Biggest crowd: 45,958 (April 14)
Smallest crowd: 16,421 (May 4)
Average (14 dates): 25,456
2008 average (14 dates): 27,411
Copyright © 2009 The Seattle Times Company
UPDATE - 8:27 PM
Catcher Gregg Zaun retires after 16 seasons
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