Mariners unable to execute in ninth inning
Bunt singles, Rodney's command lead to frustrating loss
ARLINGTON -- Little things can add up to big frustrations when you're losing baseball games, and the Mariners got nicked to death again in a 4-3 loss to the Rangers on Monday night as they endured their American League-leading ninth walk-off defeat.
The Rangers mounted their winning rally on the back of two bunt singles, a hit batter and a bases-loaded walk off losing pitcher Fernando Rodney.
Seattle certainly had its chances in this one, putting together seven hits and four walks off Texas starter Cole Hamels and pulling even first at 2 in the fifth and at 3 in the seventh. But walking the tightrope has been difficult with a shaky bullpen this season, and after newcomer Edgar Olmos provided 1 2/3 scoreless innings, Rodney couldn't hold the line in the ninth.
It's not as if the Rangers were belting him around, however. Ryan Strausborger led off with a bunt single that manager Lloyd McClendon felt should have been handled by Rodney.
Then Delino DeShields dropped a sacrifice bunt down the third-base line that Kyle Seager fielded, delayed momentarily and then threw just a tick late to get the speedy leadoff hitter on a play that went to review after the Mariners challenged the call.
"I think he hesitated," McClendon said. "He probably had a play at second and was a little late throwing the ball to first. If you throw it, [Robinson] Cano is going to be there. It's just one of those unfortunate deals."
He got no argument from Seager, a Gold Glove winner in 2014, who said he took a peek at second to see if he might get the lead runner and then was just late on the throw.
"He was getting down the line pretty well and I hesitated a little too much," Seager said. "If you have a play at second, that's the priority out, but you have to make sure you get one out there."
Instead, the Mariners were left with runners at first and second and no outs, and Rodney loaded the bases by hitting Shin-Soo Choo. Though he struck out Prince Fielder, Rodney couldn't find the strike zone against Adrian Beltre and forced in the winning run.
Rodney acknowledged his command wasn't where he wanted.
"Just a little. A couple of pitches," he said. "But I think I made good pitches to try to get out of the inning. That's baseball. Sometimes you think it's a good pitch, close to the strike zone, but they're not [called] strikes."
Rookie closer Carson Smith has struggled of late as well and threw two innings in Sunday's 12-inning win in Boston, so this one fell on the veteran Rodney. McClendon doesn't have a lot of great late-inning options since the trade of Mark Lowe to Toronto and the problems of his current crew, but insisted he's not wondering where to turn.
"No, I'm not scratching my head," McClendon said after his team fell to 1-3 on the road trip and 55-64 overall. "And I'm not going to go there. We're going to be ready to play a game tomorrow and we'll get after them."