Mariners move on from tough road trip
ANAHEIM -- After suffering their second straight walk-off defeat against the Angels, a 4-3 setback on Wednesday that ended a frustrating 10-day road trip, manager Lloyd McClendon and his Mariners vowed to keep the faith and get things turned around once they return home.
With a welcome off-day on Thursday, the Mariners have 24 hours to lick their wounds after losing six of their last seven games and falling to 11-17 to open a season of high expectations. Wednesday night's loss carried some extra bite as the Angels scored the winning run in the bottom of the ninth for a second straight night, this time on Johnny Giavotella's RBI double to right field on a hit-and-run that allowed Erick Aybar to scamper home all the way from first.
"This is a funny game in a lot of different ways," McClendon said. "Sometimes you've got to suck it up. This was a very, very tough road trip for us in a lot of different ways. We certainly had opportunities to win ballgames. But the old saying goes, I think the baseball gods are testing us a little bit. We've got a day off, and we will regroup."
It was the fifth walk-off loss of the season for the Mariners, tied with the Pirates for the most in the Majors.
For a second straight night, the Mariners rallied late -- this time tying the game with a run in the top of the ninth off Angels closer Huston Street -- only to see rookie reliever Carson Smith walk leadoff hitter David Freese in the bottom of the inning. Then -- after Aybar replaced Freese at first following a failed sacrifice attempt -- Smith missed up with a critical pitch to Giavotella and the Angels were celebrating at home plate once again.
"Losing like that is tough, especially two days in a row," said Mariners third baseman Kyle Seager, who hit a two-run homer early and then doubled and scored the tying run in the ninth. "But tip your cap to them. We made our little run there, last night going ahead and tonight tying it up, and they responded."
Seager is among those saying the Mariners just need to keep forging ahead and better results will come.
"We were in second place two days ago," he noted. "It's early in the season and we don't like the way we're playing. But we're going to keep battling and when everything clicks, the division is pretty tight here and we're going to be all right.
"We got off to a tough start last year and were able to battle," he said. "We've got a lot more talent in this room then we did last year. We've shown different signs throughout the season -- the pitching's been good, the hitting's been good, we just have to get everything in sync."
For the second straight night, the Mariners got a good outing from their starter -- this time Roenis Elias throwing seven innings with three runs and six hits -- but saw their bullpen falter late.
Smith hadn't allowed a run in the first 20 appearances of his career until allowing the game-winning home run in Houston on Sunday. His second run allowed was just as costly, dropping him to 0-2 with a 1.42 ERA.
"I didn't have my stuff today, with my location," said the big right-hander. "It happens. I've got to learn to pitch when I don't have my best stuff and hit my spots. I can't walk the leadoff guy."
So what now? The Mariners will head home to open a nine-game homestand on Friday against the A's sitting in last place, but only half a game back of both Oakland and Texas and two back of the second-place Angels in what's turning into a wacky American League West behind front-running Houston.
"We'll turn the page," said McClendon. "This is the big leagues. You'll hear me say it a thousand times. It's very difficult to win games at this level and if you don't execute and perform to your maximum, most nights they're going to beat you. We didn't execute when we needed to and they beat us.
"But listen, there are good days ahead for this ballclub. This is a very good ballclub and they're built to win. It's a long season. This team will be OK."