A lot went wrong for the Mariners – including one exceedingly goofy call -- and the result gave Saunders his first loss in 10 decisions at Safeco Field.
He had taken the mound with a 9-0 career record in Seattle, and 3-0 with a 0.94 ERA in his first four home starts this season. However, those streaks crumbled in a 9-5 loss to the Texas Rangers before a crowd of 22,053.
“He struggled tonight,” manager Eric Wedge said. “He still battled: got us through five innings. But he still threw a lot of pitches. He made some mistakes and they got to him. ... I was pleased with us offensively. A lot of at bats, a lot of hits, played all the way through. But it was tough to be down early like that.”
Saunders got out of the first inning smoothly, and in the bottom half his offense staked him to a 1-0 lead.
But Saunders’ home magic vanished from there as the Rangers (32-17) took the lead with two runs in the second and added to it with three in the third.
Saunders left after five innings, trailing 6-3. The next three Texas runs were charged to reliever Danny Farquhar.
“The bullpen has just been used quite a bit,” Wedge said. “Our starters have been struggling going through the last week, and you see the results of it. But we’ve got to handle it. ... We’ve got a lot of guys offensively who look like they’re headed in the right direction.”
The top offensive contributors for Seattle (20-29) came from the heart of the order. Kyle Seager had three hits including a double. Mike Morse, Raul Ibanez and Justin Smoak had two hits each. Batting ninth, Brendan Ryan had two doubles and drove in two runs.
But in the end it was a familiar result, even though there were a couple of new faces taking part.
Catcher Jesus Sucre made his Major League debut after being selected from Triple-A Tacoma a few hours earlier.
His first big-league at bat was an odd one, as he hit into what was ruled a double play. The play began with a ground ball that Texas first baseman Mitch Moreland fielded and threw to shortstop Elvis Andrus for the first out. Andrus then returned the throw to first, where pitcher Justin Grimm -- who was well away from the bag -- basically intercepted it in front of Moreland. Regardless, first base umpire Jeff Nelson called Sucre out.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge went out to complain -- but on a whole different issue.
“I thought (Moreland) came off the bag, so that was what I was out there arguing,” Wedge said. “I didn’t come to find out until later with the replay that he didn’t even catch the ball. ... It would have been a much bigger argument if I had known that at the time, no doubt about it.”
A few innings later, the official scorer changed it from a 3-6-3 double play to 3-6-1, crediting the out to the guy who at least caught the ball.
Sucre got his first Major League hit in the ninth -- a single to left -- and along with it a standing ovation from the crowd.
“That was amazing,” he said. “The people started yelling at me. I was feeling pretty excited about it.”
He scored his first run a few seconds later on a double by Ryan.
Another newcomer from Tacoma -- Carlos Triunfel, who arrived at Safeco about halfway through the game -- came on as a pinch hitter in the ninth and flied out to center.
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