Mariners finally head home after losing series finale at Texas, 5-3
Issues with the offense and bullpen are costly again in a loss to the Rangers. Seattle plays its home opener at 7:10 p.m. Friday against Oakland at Safeco Field (ROOT Sports TV).
Seattle Times staff reporter
ARLINGTON, Texas — With their longest of road odysseys finally completed, the Mariners now hope a taste of home brings them the consistency they've sought in two key areas.
Seattle will play its home opener Friday night after two months of spring training, a trip to Japan, more Cactus League play and a two-city trip to begin the regular season. This final of those road games, a 5-3 loss to the Texas Rangers on Thursday afternoon, underscored the inconsistency both on offense and in the bullpen that kept the Mariners from taking more than one of the four contests here.
The Mariners couldn't get much going until late against Rangers starter Derek Holland, then saw the bullpen unable to keep things close enough once they did fight their way back into it.
"He's just tough," Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan said of Holland, the young left-hander so key to the Rangers' rotation. "Sometimes, that fastball rides. Sometimes it sails or sinks. The slider's deceptive and if he gets that going with his velocity, it doesn't matter who you are, it's going to be tough regardless."
The Mariners scored three runs in the ninth inning Wednesday night to rally for a 4-3 win, after being down 3-0. They attempted their latest comeback Thursday, also down 3-0 in the sixth, when Ryan led off with a double and was driven home by an Alex Liddi single.
Kyle Seager made it 3-2 by walloping an upper-deck solo home run to right field off Holland in the seventh, estimated at 438 feet. But Mariners starter Jason Vargas left with two out and a runner on third in the bottom of the inning, then saw reliever Erasmo Ramirez surrender a run-scoring double to Ian Kinsler and an RBI single to Michael Young that put things away.
Miguel Olivo doubled home a third Seattle run with two out in the ninth. But pinch-hitter Michael Saunders grounded out against Mike Adams to seal a third Seattle loss in four games in front of 31,513 at Rangers Ballpark.
"We just didn't have the breakthrough inning," said Ryan, whose hit off Holland was just the second by Seattle all day to that point. "I don't know what our percentages were of getting the first guy on, but it just makes it tougher when you aren't hitting the ball out of the yard."
The Mariners did not get the leadoff runner on once against the Rangers in this game. They had gone 23 consecutive scoreless innings before launching their Wednesday comeback in the eighth.
A continued bright spot was the hitting by Seager, now batting .321 with three extra-base hits and a team-leading six runs batted in.
"It would be nice if we could have Kyle hit three times in the order, but that's not the case," Ryan said. "Hopefully, he can keep it going and we can all pick it up a bit."
Another bright spot this series was the starting pitching. With the exception of Hector Noesi's implosion in the series opener, the starters kept Seattle within a run by the seventh or eighth innings of the final three games.
Vargas got roughed up a bit in the first inning, but survived, down only 1-0. He then yielded a bit of a wind-aided two-run homer to Young in the fifth to fall behind 3-0 but was otherwise solid.
"Yeah, we threw the ball great," Vargas said. "They've got some guys over there who can do it on the mound as well, so it's tough on our guys. They've got some pretty good arms and live arms, especially coming out of the bullpen.
"So, to come over here, first series of the year, and do what we did ... we can pitch and we've pitched the last couple of years. They know that. They know they have to come in ready and we know we have to come in ready. I'm looking forward to facing them again."
Mariners manager Eric Wedge pulled Vargas after 90 pitches with Kinsler due up, already having managed two hits in the game. With limited bullpen options, Wedge went to Ramirez, who'd looked so good in a three-inning stint Monday night.
Not this time.
"With Kinsler, you're supposed to stay down and out of the zone," Ramirez said. "At 1-1, I tried to throw my curveball over for a strike, and it was a mistake."
The middle relievers struggled in all but the second game, with Steve Delabar yielding consecutive homers in the eighth inning on Wednesday and George Sherrill giving up a three-run blast Monday.
"We're still settling into things, particularly with the bullpen, but that will come," Wedge said. "It's a matter of settling into their roles and gaining some experience. A lot of these guys are coming out of spring training and opening with the club for the first time. I think a lot of that factors into it."
Wedge said he hopes getting off the road and players getting in familiar routines can eliminate some of the inconsistencies.
"I think everybody's looking forward to getting back home," Wedge said. "I know I am."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com.
On Twitter @gbakermariners
|The long way home|
|The Mariners' travel itinerary from spring training to Friday's home opener:|
|Peoria to Tokyo||5,770|
|Tokyo to Peoria||5,770|
|Peoria to Oakland||629|
|Oakland to Arlington||1,457|
|Arlington to Seattle||1,671|