By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
MINNEAPOLIS — Here’s the takeaway on the Seattle Mariners’ losing streak, which reached four games Saturday night in falling 4-3 to the Minnesota Twins at Target Field.
This is what happens when a club gets one hit in 26 opportunities with runners in scoring position. Four losses. Four tough losses. Three by one run.
“I feel like everybody is on the verge of contributing like how we should be doing,” said center fielder James Jones, whose RBI triple in a two-run third inning was the sort of big hit that has been all too rare.
“All we can do is keep working hard, keep grinding and stay confident out there.”
Right now, confidence is a thinning commodity after seven losses in 10 games. And a sputtering attack is the big reason. Only twice in those 10 games did the Mariners score more than four runs.
“We’ll figure this offense out, and we’ll be OK,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We just didn’t get that big hit the last three or four games. That one hit that puts us over the top.
“But guys are working at it. They’re coming out for extra work. They’re doing everything that I’ve asked them to do. In the end, it’ll pay off, and we’ll get better.”
Until then … things like this happen:
Rookie lefty Roenis Elias spotted a curveball, his signature pitch, in a good location — and the result was a three-run homer; a back-breaker that Brian Dozier delivered after two ground-ball singles in the fifth inning.
“It was a good curveball,” catcher Mike Zunino insisted. “It was down. I went back, right after that inning to check where it was, and I thought it was a really good pitch.
“(Dozier) just dropped the head on it and was able to elevate it.”
So it goes.
Dozier also had a homer and an RBI double Friday when the Twins opened the series with a 5-4 victory.
“One night you throw a ball that felt like it was neck level,” Zunino marveled, “and he stays on top and hits it out. The next night, you throw one down, and he was able to drop the head and elevate it.
“Sometimes, when guys are seeing the ball well, you’ve just got to tip your cap to them.”
The Mariners had more hat-tipping for previously winless Minnesota starter Sam Deduno, who permitted just two hits in six innings before handing a 4-2 lead to the bullpen.
“He had a lot of movement on his fastball,” Jones said, “and he was locating it. Against the lefties, he was coming in on us a lot. And he had good movement on his cutter.”
That the Mariners made things interesting, before falling short for a second straight game against the Twins’ bullpen, only heightened the frustration.
Brian Duensing inherited a two-run lead from Deduno in the seventh but started the inning by yielding a double to Justin Smoak.
After Smoak moved to third on Dustin Ackley’s deep fly to right, Duensing walked Zunino on four pitches.
That threat ended when Stefen Romero batted for Brad Miller and hit a hopper to the mound, which Duensing turned into double play.
The Mariners pulled closer in the eighth when Michael Saunders rocked a one-out homer against Jared Burton. Corey Hart’s two-out double put the tying run in scoring position, but Burton struck out Kyle Seager.
Smoak opened the ninth with a single against Glen Perkins, but the next three hitters went quietly. Perkins got his 12th save, and Deduno moved to 1-2.
Elias (3-3) carried a 2-1 lead into the fifth before it slipped away in a hurry.
One-out singles by Aaron Hicks and Eduardo Escobar put runners on first and third for Dozier, whose drive to left had just enough carry to claw its way over the wall.
“Really, it wasn’t a mistake,” McClendon said. “It was a pretty darn good pitch that the guy hit out. It’s tough. That’s baseball.”
And another loss.