By Ryan Divish The News Tribune
TORONTO — They were both losses in which the Seattle Mariners watched their opponent score 10 runs.
The starting pitcher in each game — left-hander Joe Saunders — looked dismal and the game was over, for all intents and purposes, by the fourth inning.
But the mood after each of those losses couldn’t have been more different.
On April 24, the Mariners slogged their way through a 10-3 loss to the Astros at Minute Maid Park in Houston. Saunders was roughed up for eight runs on 11 hits in five innings. It culminated an awful Texas road trip that saw Seattle go 1-6 and lose its second series of the season to the Astros. The Mariners’ record was 8-15 and they were playing deplorable baseball.
Seattle manager Eric Wedge had seen enough of it and let his team have it in a closed-door postgame meeting.
Fast forward to Sunday — the Mariners looked sluggish, losing, 10-2 to the Blue Jays at the Rogers Centre.
Saunders was again shaky, giving up seven runs on nine hits in five innings. The Mariners managed just three hits against former teammate Brandon Morrow.
But there was no postgame meeting. There was no frustration or anger.
Well, the Mariners had still taken 2-of-3 games from the Blue Jays for a series win — their third in a row. They’ve won seven of their past 10 games.
“We feel good about ourselves,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “Obviously today was a tough one. But winning two before then is a good thing. We have a lot of confidence, and we are playing with a lot of confidence right now.”
Even Saunders found positives after the outing.
“Our confidence level is high,” Saunders said. “You aren’t going to win every game and you are going to have games like this. But it’s how we bounce back. And I’ve think we’ve shown we can do that.”
The Mariners are off today before playing the Pirates for two games at PNC Park in Pittsburgh. They will have another off day on Thursday before opening a three-game series at home against the Oakland A’s.
No matter how many baseball games you watch, you can find things that you’ve never seen before.
On Sunday, there were a couple.
Jesus Montero reached first on an infield hit. That in itself seems almost impossible.
The lumbering catcher, who has running speed only a tortoise would love, was credited with an infield hit in the fifth inning. With runners on first and second and no outs, Montero hit a hard ground ball to third. Blue Jays third baseman Mark DeRosa made a diving stop and threw to second for the force out — but Dustin Ackley beat the throw. Montero was still rumbling to first base at the time, but the official scorer, who only sees the Mariners once a season, generously ruled Montero would have been safe on any throw to first from DeRosa and gave him the infield hit.
Yet that wasn’t even the oddest play. Designated hitter Kendrys Morales, who would likely be the slowest player on any team in baseball that didn’t have Montero on it, managed to notch an infield double.
Yes, in the eighth inning Morales hit a towering infield popup. The ball was directly above the pitcher’s mound. Blue Jays pitcher Brandon Morrow got out of the way as he was taught to do. Third baseman Mark DeRosa and first baseman Edwin Encarnacion both converged on the mound. Encarnacion called off DeRosa. But as Encarnacion was moving to catch the ball, he tripped on the pitcher’s mound and fell face first into the dirt. The ball came down and bounced high in the air.
Morales, to his credit, kept running and made it safely to second for a double despite the ball going no more than 65 feet from home plate.
The Mariners travel to Pittsburgh but have today off. They open a quick two-game series with the Pirates at PNC Park on Tuesday.