That was as unlucky of a 2-1 defeat as you’ll ever see. Down 1-0 on a solo homer in the fourth, Christian Bergman was working around a moderate jam in the fifth. With two outs, he got Joe Mauer to bounce one to second base. At the time, you could’ve made an argument that they would’ve given Bergman a shot at going six innings in this one. But, not so fast, because the ball booted off the heel of Robinson Cano’s glove to put runners at the corners. The lead runner was past third base enough for the M’s to potentially have a shot at picking him off, but Cano couldn’t get a clean grip on the ball. By the time he did, it was too late and he should’ve eaten it. Instead, he tried to rush the ball to third, saw it skip past Kyle Seager, allowing the runner to turn around and score.
Two errors, one play, by a guy who had one error all season.
In the bottom of the fifth, Jarrod Dyson led off with a triple. One out and a Boog Powell walk later, Ben Gamel hit a sac fly to score Dyson. Guillermo Heredia hit a single to right to put runners on the corners, which brought up Robbie with a chance to atone for his sins in the top half of the inning. He hit a screaming liner to center that looked like it was going to score the go-ahead runs for the Mariners, but Byron Buxton made a crazy leaping catch to end the inning.
There’s probably only a small handful of guys who are able to track that ball and make that catch.
The bullpens kept the game the same on into the bottom of the eighth, with the heart of the order coming up. Cano and Seager singled to put runners at first and second; with one out, the hero of the previous night – Mike Zunino – stepped to the plate. He didn’t have a particularly good game in this one heading into the at bat, but all of that would’ve changed had he gotten ahold of one. On a 1-0 pitch, Zunino smashed a liner right at the pitcher that almost certainly would’ve scored the tying run. But, he hit it right into the pitcher’s glove, who was able to easily double off Cano at second to end the threat.
There would be no blown save for Minnesota’s closer on this night, as he came into the ninth and went 1-2-3.
What can you do, you know? The confluence of events to get that game to go in Minnesota’s favor was pretty astounding. Bergman once again pitched good enough to keep the Mariners in the ballgame (funny how he rarely seems to have Gallardo’s problem of The Big Inning, but that’s neither here nor there) and the bullpen pitched good enough to give the Mariners the win. Four shutout innings by Pazos, Cishek, Scrabble, and Altavilla.
Offensively, we’re talking about 0 for 7 with RISP, which obviously won’t get the job done on many nights. The Mariners will try again to get back to .500 (and maybe over .500) against the Blue Jays this weekend. Sam Gaviglio goes tonight, which is cause for concern. The fact that the Blue Jays have practically everyone back and healthy is another cause for concern, considering they were pretty beaten down by injuries the last time we played them last month, and they still managed to sweep the M’s in a 4-game series. On top of all of that, we have to deal with a park full of insufferable Blue Jays fans. Part of me wants to go to Safeco this weekend and mix it up, but the rest of me knows the Mariners are just going to lose anyway, because we always fucking lose to Toronto.
On a minor positive note, both Drew Smyly and Hisashi Iwakuma threw off of a mound yesterday. It’s not much, but it’s an important next step. Also, Mitch Haniger had a good game down in Tacoma, drawing the game-winning walk. And, word around the team is that Nelson Cruz should be back tonight, but we’ll see.