'Gamble' on squeeze backfires for Mariners

Baserunning mistake results in key out instead of go-ahead run

September 20th, 2017

SEATTLE -- Coming out of the All-Star break, Mariners manager Scott Servais debuted a new wrinkle to the club's daily hitters meeting. Each day, they showed "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly" on the base paths in an attempt for Seattle to cut down on its baserunning miscues.

In the Mariners' 3-1 loss to the Rangers on Tuesday night, those same mistakes came back to bite Seattle in an immense way.

With runners on the corners and one out in the seventh inning of a 1-1 game, was picked off at third base after catcher received Tony Barnette's offering and fired to at the bag, who easily nabbed Alonso for a key second out. ended up singling to center, but Ben Gamel flied out to spoil the opportunity.

Servais said it was a called safety squeeze gone wrong. Heredia showed bunt on a 1-0 pitch, but pulled back after the pitch was low-and-away and Alonso couldn't retreat after taking an overly ambitious lead.

"If it's a strike, I'm sure [Heredia] puts it down and Yonder scores easy," Servais said. "Yonder got a little bit too aggressive down the line and they made a play on us. It's a point of a game and where we are at, I thought it was worth a gamble. Heredia did the right thing, you shouldn't bunt that ball unless it's a strike. We just got too aggressive off the base."

The Mariners let the Rangers off the ropes, and Texas subsequently made them pay. The Rangers tagged Nick Vincent with two runs in the eighth inning to break the tie. Seattle couldn't capitalize on a Twins' loss, and thus it remained four games back of Minnesota for the second American League Wild Card spot with 11 games left in the season.

Alonso being picked off was just one missed opportunity for the Mariners, who went 0-for-3 with runners in scoring position and stranded seven baserunners.

"Tough pitch and I just couldn't get back," Alonso said. "I felt like if anything I took a couple steps too aggressive, and it didn't work out."

On the flip side, it required a pair of heads-up plays from the Rangers to record the game's big out, which they executed to perfection.

"We go over those situations in Spring Training and run through those plays to defend them," Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. "We give those guys reminders and it helps to have an experienced infielder like Elvis [Andrus]. For Drew [Robinson], a young third baseman, great job not getting sucked in too far and being able to get back and take the throw. Communication was big."

Seattle is 26th in the Majors in BsR, FanGraph's baserunning metric, at -11.6. They've made 53 total outs on the bases this season, the sixth worst the American League.

Tuesday was a costly reminder of that.

"There's a lot things you could play out there," Servais said. "Again, if you execute it, and it works, then everyone's like 'Hey, what a great play.' I thought it was worth a gamble at that point in the game. One pitch. He had it down for one pitch.

"Again, a ballgame like that, it's going to come down to one run either way. We just didn't get it done tonight."