ARLINGTON -- While the Mariners' offense went into hibernation in July, now the pitching has hit an August swoon. That's a bad combination for a club trying desperately to stay in the playoff chase in the American League West.And now they begin the hard part of the schedule.Marco Gonzales, Seattle's
ARLINGTON -- While the Mariners' offense went into hibernation in July, now the pitching has hit an August swoon. That's a bad combination for a club trying desperately to stay in the playoff chase in the American League West.
And now they begin the hard part of the schedule.
Marco Gonzales, Seattle's most consistent starter all season, gave up a career-high seven runs and 12 hits in five innings on Wednesday afternoon as the Rangers rolled to an 11-7 series-clinching win at Globe Life Park.
"It was one where they were aggressive, and I was a little up in the zone, so that doesn't help," said Gonzales. "That's not a great combo with that team."
The Mariners' rotation played a big part of a surprising first half, but that group is 0-6 with a 6.24 ERA while the club has lost seven of its past nine games. Seattle is 9-18 since July 6 while falling to 65-50, and it now faces three current playoff teams in the Astros, A's and Dodgers over its next 13 games, including seven against AL West-leading Houston.
Gonzales fell to 12-7 with a 3.79 ERA while giving up five doubles and a pair of Joey Gallo home runs.
"They were on him today, there's no questions about it," said Mariners manager Scott Servais. "He hung in there and gave us five innings, but not what we've typically seen of Marco."
Mike Zunino launched two solo home runs and now has three in his past two starts, but Seattle managed just three hits and a pair of runs in six innings off former Mariners right-hander Yovani Gallardo (7-1, 6.11 ERA).
The Mariners rallied for four runs in the seventh off the Rangers' bullpen, but newly acquired lefty Zach Duke promptly allowed four runs on four hits -- including a trio of doubles -- as Texas re-established its five-run lead in the bottom of the frame.
"You get to within one and see the game starting to flip in our favor, but then you've got to go out and put a zero up, and we were not able to do that," Servais said. "They've been swinging the bats very well."
Zunino's second home run was a ninth-inning blast to center projected at 438 feet by Statcast™ and lifted his season total to 16. Mitch Haniger went 2-for-3 with a pair of RBI singles, and Jean Segura had a two-run single in the seventh as Seattle's offense continued its recent revival.
But that wasn't enough to counter a season-high 19-hit attack by the Rangers that included eight doubles, a triple and two home runs. The 11 extra-base hits were the most by Texas since 2011.
"I thought Marco threw the ball well," said Zunino. "But every time we tried to keep them honest in, they were able to rap it down the pull-side line; and every time we used the soft stuff away, they were hitting it in the opposite gap. They were all over his stuff. It was just one of those days. They've been swinging the bats really well coming into this series, and we just couldn't cool them down."
The last-place Rangers have won nine of their past 12 and have scored 93 runs in that span, an average of 7.8 runs a game. The Mariners, on the flip side, have totaled 94 runs over their past 27 games (3.5 a game) and now are scuffling on the pitching side as well.
"We have to just keep playing baseball," said Gonzales. "That's why we play the game. There's a lot of games left to be played, and we have a lot of time. We need to hang together and start clicking. The important thing right now is to not wonder why we're struggling or to panic about it, it's important to stick together."
First baseman Ryon Healy was taken out of the game in the bottom of the sixth due to heat-related illness as both teams dealt with the 92-degree temperatures in the afternoon contest. Moments later, reliever Sam Tuivailala strained his right Achilles tendon trying to catch Rougned Odor in a rundown between home and third. Tuivailala, who was acquired from the Cardinals two weeks ago, couldn't put any weight on his leg as he was helped off the field and replaced by James Pazos, and he will now fly back to Seattle for further tests and be placed on the 10-day disabled list. More >>
MOMENT THAT MATTERED
General manager Jerry Dipoto went out and got Duke from the Twins at the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline to add a veteran lefty specialist to the bullpen. But the 35-year-old gave up the four runs in the seventh after Seattle had trimmed the deficit to one and has allowed six hits -- including three doubles and a home run -- and six runs in 2 1/3 innings over five appearances since joining the Mariners.
"I left some balls up in the zone today and didn't execute well, and that's what happens. I've got to be better," said Duke, who acknowledged it's hard when trying to create a good first impression with a new team. "You can put pressure on yourself that way, but I've been around long enough that I shouldn't be struggling lke that. I'm better than what I've been so far, and I'll start proving it."
HE SAID IT
"We didn't have a good series. We've got to get it turned around. People are frustrated and ticked off and all that other stuff. A lot of things went on in that ballgame today, and to fight back like we did and get it to a pretty good spot and then not keep it going was frustrating." -- Servais
James Paxton (9-5, 3.51 ERA) has been outstanding against the Astros this year, and he'll get another shot in Thursday's 5:10 p.m. PT series opener at Minute Maid Park in an excellent pitching matchup against right-hander Justin Verlander (11-6, 2.19 ERA). Paxton is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in three starts against Houston this season and 6-3 with a 2.59 ERA in 11 starts in his career.
Greg Johns has covered the Mariners since 1997, and for MLB.com since 2011. Follow him on Twitter @GregJohnsMLB.