'No panic here': Mariners look ahead to better days
Rodríguez's first career triple the bright spot of Seattle's sixth straight loss
SEATTLE -- The bad times continued for the Mariners on Saturday night. For the sixth game in a row, and the 10th time in the past 11, the Mariners ended up on the losing side.
A weak offense wasn’t able to take advantage of an early opportunity, a bad bounce early put Seattle in a hole and a disastrous outing from reliever Diego Castillo left the outcome in no doubt.
The only bright spots were the first career triple from Julio Rodríguez and a ninth-inning homer from Abraham Toro as Seattle fell to the Rays, 8-2.
The stretch has taken the shine off a hot start for the Mariners. After winning at Tampa Bay on April 26, Seattle had an 11-6 record and led the AL West by a half game. Eleven games later, Seattle is 12-16 and sits in third place, 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Angels.
“We’ve been streaky. We had a good streak early, we’re in a bad streak right now,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said. “We’re going through a little adversity here. We continue to find out about each other, and you really find out a lot about people when things aren’t going well. That’s kind of what we’re going through now. It’ll pay off for us in the long run, we will get it turned around, but for now it’s not any fun.”
In its last 10 losses, Seattle has scored a total of 24 runs, although that number is skewed by Friday’s 8-7 loss and an 8-6 defeat in Miami on April 29. In the other eight they’ve scored three runs or fewer.
On Saturday, the Rays’ first run could be chalked up to bad luck. With runners on first and second and one out, Harold Ramirez hit a deep fly ball to right-center. After Rodríguez’s catch, Yandy Díaz tagged up to advance to third and Adam Frazier’s late relay throw bounced off Díaz’s leg and out of play, sending Díaz home.
The Mariners appeared to be in position to break through in the bottom of the third, loading the bases with one out and Seattle’s two best hitters coming to the plate. But Ty France popped out to left field, too shallow for runners to advance, and J.P. Crawford grounded out to end the inning scoreless.
Crawford dove into first base as he attempted to beat the throw, and felt a pain in his back. He left the game after the fourth inning with back spasms and is day to day.
Seattle starter Marco Gonzales had a decent start, going 5 1/3 innings while giving up six hits, but struggled at times with command. His four walks were the most he’s allowed since Sept. 5, 2019, when he walked five at Houston. It wasn’t the walks that really hurt him, though. The big blows were a pair of home runs by Brandon Lowe.
Rodríguez’s first career triple to lead off the fifth inning led to Seattle’s first run when Frazier singled him home. Other than Toro’s homer with two outs in the ninth, that was all the Mariners’ offense could muster.
In the eighth, Castillo came on in relief with Tampa Bay leading 3-1. Castillo wasn’t able to get an out. All five batters he faced scored, with the crowning blow coming on a grand slam by Manuel Margot.
“I thought he just looked out of sorts timing-wise in his delivery,” Servais said. “He was yanking some fastballs, really didn’t have command of anything.”
The losing streak may be starting to weigh on the team -- Servais said he thought the offensive struggles have led some pitchers to press and try to be perfect -- but there’s also a recognition that it’s still very early in the season.
“This happens. It’s happened before. It happened the season prior. It’s going to happen, we’re going to have another lull during the season after we get out of this one. It’s not new to the guys in this building,” Gonzales said. “We’re used to the ups and downs of the season. There’s no panic here. There’s simply a mindset of staying to it. That’s all you can do.”