Mariners blow 5-0 lead, lose in 13th

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Perhaps it was inevitable considering what has transpired this season for the Seattle Mariners.

When they failed to score a run in the 10th, 11th, 12th and 13th innings, the possibility of yet another walk-off loss grew exponentially with each batter.

It was only a matter of time.

Mike Moustakas took advantage in the 13th off a poor pitch from reliever Chance Ruffin on a 0-2 count, crushing it well over the fence in right field to give the Kansas City Royals a 7-6 victory in the dying sunlight at Kaufmann Stadium.

“It was supposed to be a fastball off the plate, and I just left it right down the middle,” Ruffin said.

It was the 11th time this season the Mariners have lost on a walk-off hit. It was the first time Ruffin had to endure the scene of another team celebrating at home plate.

Ruffin pitching in that situation was indicative of the Mariners and their bullpen issues. Mariners’ manager Eric Wedge wasn’t able to use normal setup men Yoervis Medina and Oliver Perez in the game because of excessive use during this road trip and the season.

With starter Joe Saunders not making it out of the fifth inning, the Mariners were forced to use Brandon Maurer, Charlie Furbush, Tom Wilhelmsen and Lucas Luetge before calling on Ruffin in the 12th inning, who worked a quick 1-2-3 inning leading up to the 13th.

“The solo shot got us, but I thought Ruffin pitched well,” Wedge said.

Ruffin hadn’t been on a big-league mound in a Mariners’ uniform since the 2011 season, when he was acquired as part of the trade that sent Doug Fister to the Detroit Tigers. Ruffin pitched with Class AAA Tacoma in 2012. He began this season in the starting rotation at Class AA Jackson, before switching back to a reliever in Tacoma in July.

But he would use none of it as an excuse.

“I felt good,” Ruffin said. “I had command of all four pitches. I love those situations. I love pitching in a tight game like that. I’ve been comfortable pitching in tight games since college. It was a lot of fun being out in that situation. I just made a mistake.”

Seattle rolled to a 5-0 lead after four innings. The Mariners jumped all over Royals starter Jeremy Guthrie, scoring three runs in the first inning. Kendrys Morales delivered an RBI single and Justin Smoak crushed a two-run homer to right field, his 15th of the season.

The Mariners tacked on another run in the third when Kyle Seager took advantage of a mistake by first baseman Eric Hosmer on a throw from the outfield.

Brad Miller made it 5-0 in the fourth with a sacrifice fly to left field to score Michael Saunders.

And yet, it felt like there should have been more runs.

“We had some chances to break it open,” Wedge said. “I like the five runs we scored. We had some other opportunities we didn’t take advantage of. That’s the difference for us offensively.”

The five runs weren’t enough for Seattle starter Joe Saunders, whose outing fell apart in the fifth.

After getting the first out of the inning, Saunders gave up three straight hits, including a two-run homer to Alex Gordon. Saunders struck out Hosmer for the second out of the inning, but never got the third out. Billy Butler, who had five hits in the game, singled to right and Salvador Perez followed with an RBI single to left to cut it to 5-3. Saunders walked Justin Maxwell and Wedge had seen enough.

“Joe made it tough for himself in the fifth inning,” Wedge said. “We tried to give him every opportunity to get that final out.”

Brandon Maurer came in and struck out pinch hitter Carlos Pena to preserve the lead and then pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning.

“Maurer came out great,” Wedge said “He got the big strikeout there. And then ran through the next inning.”

But Maurer couldn’t sustain the success in the seventh.

He gave up four straight hits to start the inning, including an RBI double from Hosmer and RBI single from Butler to tie the game at five.

“You expect Maurer to get somebody out in that situation,” Wedge said. “He’s going to have to learn how get over that hump.”

Charlie Furbush replaced Maurer and gave up a sacrifice fly to Justin Maxwell to allow the Royals to take a 6-5 lead.

The Mariners appeared to be done.

The Royals turned to lefty Will Smith, who mowed through the Mariners in order in the eighth.

In the ninth, Royals closer Greg Holland, who has been close to perfect all season, had two outs and pinch hitter Raul Ibanez down 1-2 in the count.

Ibanez ripped a hanging slider into the right field stands to tie the game at 6.

“I was just trying not to do too much,” Ibanez said. “I got enough of it.”

The Mariners weren’t able to get much more off the Royals bullpen over the next four innings, despite having runners in scoring position in three of them.

Louis Coleman (3-0) picked up the win in relief.

More in Sports

Even 2 decades later, 1997 Apple Cup still resonates

Twenty years ago, WSU erased 67 years of heartache with a 41-35 win over UW in the Apple Cup.

Local quartet lifts the playoff-bound CWU football team

Four Snohomish County natives start for the 11-0 Wildcats.

Trump calls father of freed UCLA player an ‘ungrateful fool’

He complained again that LaVar Ball hasn’t credited him for the release by China of three basketball players.

Wesco and Cascade Conference athletes honored

Check out the 2017 all-conference teams.

Silvertips looking for offense entering weekend series

Everett will look to snap a 2-game losing streak when faces Tri-City on the road.

Seahawks waive Freeney from depleted defense

The surprising move comes on the heels of a loss where poor pass rush was an issue for Seattle.

Sounders beat Houston 2-0 in 1st leg of West finals

Gustav Svensson and Will Bruin scored for the Sounders, who host the second leg Nov. 30.

Washington State brings improved defense into Apple Cup

Typically known for its Air Raid offense, the Cougars are excelling on both sides of the ball.

Apple Cup notebook: Leach’s Cougars without special motivation

The Washington State coach said his team will prepare like it’s a normal game.

Most Read