SEATTLE — What an opportunity.
More specifically, an opportunity lost.
The Seattle Mariners let a five-run lead crumble with a series of miscues – most coming in the top of the ninth inning – as the Milwaukee Brewers avoided what could have been a Mariners sweep with a 7-6 victory on Sunday at Safeco Field.
Seattle led 6-3 entering the top of the ninth inning.
“We’ll get back at it tomorrow,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “There’s a lot of games left to play.
“But that one hurt a little bit.”
It was a ninth inning where seemingly anything that could have gone wrong, did.
One ball went off Leonys Martin’s glove in center field. Another dropped between he and left-fielder Norichika Aoki – one Aoki should have caught.
Tom Wilhelmsen surrendered three runs on two homers – the first runs he’s allowed in the month of August.
“It’s not often anyone can say they’ve won a game, any one person. But in this line of work, you can say sometimes you definitely lost that game,” Wilhelmsen said. “And that’s the unfortunate part about it.”
Matters were made laughable when the Mariners could have got out of the inning on a fly out to Shawn O’Malley in right field. He threw a strike to home that kept Manny Pina at third base, but, in the process, Scooter Gennett had traveled to within a few steps of third.
Catcher Chris Iannetta said he wanted to play it conservatively. He charged at him and lobbed a throw to Kyle Seager instead of to Robinson Cano, who appeared to be calling for the ball at second base. Gennett raced back to the bag safely.
“We don’t want to keep throwing the ball all over the place and have a double rundown going on, especially with everything that had been going on that inning,” Iannetta said. ‘I think the safe play was to run that guy back to second base.”
The loss ended the Mariners’ eight-game winning streak at Safeco Field.
“Disappointing – there’s no doubt,” Servais said. “We’ve had a real good streak going here at home. It’s been fun. I thought we did enough offensively tonight. We got to finish it, gotta close it out. Unfortunately we just didn’t get it done today.”
And it came as the Mariners were three outs from moving to a season-best 11 games over .500 and closing in on the Texas Rangers in the AL West and the Boston Red Sox and Baltimore Orioles in the wild card standings.
Edwin Diaz wasn’t called on for his 10th save in 10 opportunities because he had thrown 34 pitches in a save on Friday. Servais said that was determined prior to Sunday’s game.
That meant Wilhelmsen would go for his second save in two tries this year.
“If you would have said we had a three-run lead going into the ninth and we were going to give it to Tom Wilhelmsen, I would have felt very, very good about it,” Servais said. “It just didn’t work out.
“Wilhelmsen has done an awesome job. He really has for us. He just didn’t quite have it today.”
Keon Broxton led off with a solo home run which was his second home run of the game – his first career multi-home run game.
Chris Carter followed two batters later by hitting a tough pitch off the plate for a two-run homer that was just over Shawn O’Malley’s glove near the right-field wall.
Carter had stopped at second to wait for the umpire to signal it as a home run and not an out after O’Malley had sprinted and leaped into the wall.
“Carter hit a ball off the plate, opposite field, that was away, at Safeco Field for a homer,” Iannetta said. “You don’t normally see that.
“It was ball four.”
It tied the game at 6-6.
Gennett then hit a fly ball off Vidal Nuno two batters later between Aoki and Martin. Aoki didn’t judge the ball correctly and it landed between the two of them for a base hit, plating the go-ahead run.
“I felt the presence of (Martin) there,” Aoki said through an interpreter. “I felt him coming for the ball.”