ANAHEIM, Calif. — There was no avoiding this result. A key first-inning error, stranded runners as a result of failed at-bats with runners in scoring position and more struggles from reliever Nick Vincent couldn’t be overcome or hidden, no matter how poor the opponent.
Add it all up and the Mariners left Anaheim and their American League West road trip with a disappointing, and deserved, 6-4 loss to the Angels.
A winning record on a road trip is a positive. But this trip against two listing divisional opponents had the potential to be so much more. Instead, Seattle settled for a 2-2 split in the four-game series with the Angels and a 4-3 record overall on the seven-game swing to fall to 64-56.
“Pretty good road trip, but it would’ve been nice to pick that one up tonight,” manager Scott Servais admitted.
It seemed as though the Angels — a team that had suffered through 11 straight losses — tried to give away the two games they actually won. As the Mariners packed their bags for the flight home after the game, there was alevel of frustration for not coming away with more.
“You’d like to do better,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “You win the road trip and that’s pretty good. This is a tough league. You go on the road and come out with a winning record, you can take positives in that. But you always wish you did better and you can always do better.”
The Mariners got a solid start from Hisashi Iwakuma. Knowing he needed to pitch deep into the game with an overworked bullpen featuring at least three relievers unavailable, the veteran right-hander worked seven innings and gave up three runs (two earned) with a walk and two strikeouts.
“He knew it when he took the mound tonight that he was going to go deep,” Servais said. “And he did kind of what he always does for us. We just needed to score a few more runs for him.”
That one unearned run came in the first inning when the Angels scored two runs, but realistically should have had none. They erased a 1-0 first-inning lead compliments of Robinson Cano’s 27th homer of the season off Angels starter Matt Shoemaker. The first-pitch solo shot was Cano’s 10th homer on the first pitch of an at-bat this season — tied for most in the American League with Baltimore’s Chris Davis.
With one out and runners on first and second in the bottom of the inning, Albert Pujols hit a high-bouncing ground ball to Seager. While his last play of Wednesday night was a gorgeous, game-saving diving stop, this one was a misplayed routine double-play ball that should’ve ended the inning.
The ball bounced away from Seager and into the outfield. Instead of an easy double play with the slothlike speed of Pujols going down the line, it scored a run and kept the inning alive, allowing Andrelton Simmons to follow with an RBI single to make it 2-1.
“I got it on a tweener,” Seager said of the bounce. “I should have either charged it faster or backed up a little bit. I got right in no-man’s land. I got struck and tried to give myself space. I don’t think I even touched it. It may have a little bit, but I didn’t feel it.”
Seattle cut the lead to one run in the sixth inning when Nelson Cruz launched a towering moonshot over the wall in deep left-center. It was his 31st homer of the season.
The Mariners finished the night 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.