By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — What generally got overlooked in Tuesday’s disappointing loss to Tampa Bay was the Mariners pretty much went fetal at the plate. And, OK, that was against former Cy Young winner David Price. It happens.
But on Wednesday, it wasn’t Price. It was Jake Odorizzi, who carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before the Rays’ bullpen closed out a 2-0 victory at Safeco Field.
“Today, we fell behind in a lot of at-bats,” said left fielder Dustin Ackley, whose one-out double in the eighth inning was the Mariners’ second and final hit. “We had to hit from behind in bad counts. That’s always tough.”
Say this, though, the Mariners didn’t go quietly.
When first-base umpire Lance Barksdale called John Buck for a check-swing strike on a full-count pitch in the eighth inning with Ackley on second, it brought manager Lloyd McClendon out of the dugout.
And when Barksdale quickly ejected McClendon … well, McClendon went into full Billy Martin mode. He flung his cap toward the outfield and then unloaded on Barksdale.
“What I took exception with …,” McClendon said, “Obviously, we didn’t think he swung, but for the umpire to tell me, ‘Don’t come out there;’ that part I don’t get.
“It is what it is. You guys write what you see. You tell it. Because if I tell it, I get fined.”
It was entertaining for the 20,951 in attendance. It might have been therapeutic for McClendon and his club. It didn’t change anything, of course.
The Mariners fell back to .500 at 20-20 by losing for the third time in four games. They also lost a series after going 4-0-1 in their previous five. They have an open date today before playing three games in Minnesota.
It will be surprising if club officials don’t look for way to shake up an attack that too often flat-lines.
“You try not to overanalyze and blow things out of proportion,” McClendon cautioned. “You have to continue to look at the big picture. Do we have shortcomings offensively? Of course we do.
“Do we have challenges? Yes. Can we win? Yes we can.”
The attention in Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to the Rays centered on Fernando Rodney’s inability to protect a 1-0 lead in the ninth inning for Hisashi Iwakuma.
But the Mariners were also 0-for-10 against Price with runners in scoring position. At least they had runners, though. Against Odorizzi, they managed just two walks before James Jones served a two-out single to left in the sixth.
It was a soft liner that landed in front of Matt Joyce, and it prevented history from repeating. It was 18 years ago Wednesday that Yankees right-hander Dwight Gooden pitched a no-hitter against the Mariners.
Odorizzi (2-3) lugged a fat 5.79 ERA into the game, but he breezed through his six innings, allowing just the one single and two walks while striking out seven.
“I thought I had a really good fastball today,” he said. “It felt good coming out. The hitters tell you what your stuff is like, and they didn’t put any hard contact on it, anything like that, so we kept going to it.”
Lefty Jake McGee replaced Odorizzi to start the seventh and worked around a leadoff walk to Robinson Cano. Joel Peralta surrendered Ackley’s one-out double in the eighth.
That brought up Buck, who worked the count full before — all replays suggest — checking his swing on a pitched that darted out of the strike zone.
“You saw the film,” Buck said. “I was (surprised at the call). That was one of those ones where I felt, literally, that I held that up …. What are you going to do?”
Barksdale saw it as a swing which, really, is all that mattered. Grant Balfour then closed out Odorizzi’s victory with a scoreless ninth for his 12th save.
Mariners starter Brandon Maurer allowed 14 hits, all singles, in his previous start without registering a strikeout or a walk. That hadn’t been done in nearly 96 years, and Maurer didn’t come close to doing it again.
This time, he worked through the first inning with no hits — but had a walk and a strikeout. He yielded an extra-base hit when Wil Myers whacked a one-out double in the second inning but pitched around it.
An old bugaboo surfaced when Maurer (1-2) lost command with two outs in the fourth. With a runner on first, he loaded the bases by walking Myers and Desmond Jennings.
Maurer jumped ahead 0-2 on Yunel Escobar before issuing a third straight walk and forcing in a run.
“Once you get behind,” Maurer said, “you’re not trying to leave anything there for them to hit, so it’s kind of a tough situation to be in.”
McClendon summoned Dominic Leone, who buried a wild pitch that scooted through Buck. All runners advanced, and it was 2-0. After that came a roar but no runs.
“This was tough series,” McClendon said. “We certainly had opportunities to take this series. We didn’t perform offensively. We look at it, learn from it and move on.”