Mariners enduring bumpy stretch: 'We've got to get it going'

September 19th, 2022

ANAHEIM -- Scott Servais never calls it a “streak” until it’s at least three games. Win, lose, good or bad, in the eyes of the Mariners’ manager over the marathon MLB season, it’s never a trend until it happens thrice in a row.

And after Sunday’s 5-1 defeat to the Angels, the Mariners found themselves fitting that criteria in an increasingly frustrating manner. Seattle lost three straight games for the first time since being swept at home by Houston immediately out of the All-Star break, yet that skid came on the heels of their 14 wins in a row that catapulted the club back into contention.

Their most recent three-game losing streak before that? The well-chronicled series in late June against these all-too-familiar Angels -- the low point of their season, just before they emphatically turned it all around. Perhaps coincidentally, those were the most recent instances in which the Mariners scored one run or fewer in consecutive games, as they did on Saturday and Sunday.

“We just haven't played that well, like we're capable of,” said Servais. “Part of it has been they've shut us down offensively, but we've got to get it going. It's just where we're at."

The alarm certainly isn’t sounding like it was back in June; the Mariners still hold a playoff spot and have MLB’s easiest remaining schedule. But momentum has shifted some since they embarked on their final road trip of the season, going from sole possession of the top AL Wild Card spot to the final seed in the standings while seeing their cushion over Baltimore, the first team on the outside looking in, shrinking to four games with 17 to play.

“We just need to keep going,” said , who pitched 6 1/3 innings. “We need to get a couple guys healthy, just string together some good games here. We feel good with where we're at. We've been battling, showing up and competing. It’s what we do.”

It’s all about context, and the Mariners’ starting lineup on Sunday was without their top three home run hitters -- Eugenio Suárez and Julio Rodríguez, who are nursing injuries, and , who was scheduled off but pinch-hit in the seventh inning. Rodríguez said pregame that his lower back tightness is not significant and that he’ll return after “a few days’ rest.” Suárez’s fractured right index finger is the more pressing concern.

returned after missing four games, but he was stymied by a bevy of breaking balls from slider specialist Reid Detmers, then the Angels’ relievers -- as were the rest of the Mariners’ hitters, for that matter. It’s been a theme of the series, continuing after a dominant effort by reigning AL MVP Shohei Ohtani the night prior.

The Mariners plated their lone run in the second, when ripped a 99.7 mph double to the left-field warning track, then dropped a perfectly placed RBI blooper into shallow left field. Other than that, Detmers gave up just two hits and two walks over six innings.

“The Angels are one of the more aggressive teams in throwing the offspeed, certainly the breaking ball, in the league,” Servais said. “We have not done a very good job of adjusting to that, and we've seen it from a number of their pitchers.”

That put Gonzales on a tightrope and compounded some frustration given that, stuff-wise, he and the team were satisfied with his execution. Yet he was tagged for five runs via a season-high-tying three homers, two of which came on decent pitches. Halos leadoff man Luis Rengifo, who might be approaching Mike Trout as Seattle’s toughest Angels out, hit two; seven of his 15 this season have come against Seattle.

Rengifo’s success on Sunday was a microcosm of this season-long matchup. Even though the Angels are way out of contention, will be watching the postseason from home and have nothing to play for but pride, they’ve proven to be perhaps the most pesky division opponent for a Mariners club that has far grander plans for October. Sunday’s loss was Seattle’s 10th against the Halos this year, ensuring that the club will finish with a losing record against their division rivals.

The more urgent affair is the streak they’re now on -- and ensuring that it comes to a screeching halt.