By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — An 8-1 loss Wednesday to the Minnesota Twins offered no shortage of unpleasant little factoids for the Seattle Mariners to chew on, including (as the score confirms) a deepening fast from their run-challenged attack.
That makes seven runs in 58 innings over their last six games if you’re (also) not scoring at home.
“We got some hits,” third baseman Kyle Seager said, “but (we) weren’t able to capitalize when guys were on base in scoring position.”
That’s a growing trend: The Mariners, while they had 12 hits, were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position. They are 3-for-44 in those situations over the last six games.
“A lot of singles,” manager Lloyd McClendon noted. “I’ve said it time and time again (that) from an offensive standpoint, we’re going to be challenged some days. It won’t look good.
“But if I take the whole picture, I think we’re doing OK. I think, all in all, we’re going to be OK. It’s just been a tough couple of days for us.”
On the subject of tough …
Only three times in their last 43 games have the Mariners been beaten by more than four runs. That’s not bad, actually, until it’s noted all three have come in rookie Roenis Elias’ last three starts.
“One thing I told him tonight is we’ll get through these growing pains,” McClendon said. “But it was a tough night for him in a lot of different ways. He’ll bounce back. He’s been in a funk his last couple of outings.
“No command of the fastball.”
Elias (7-8) gave up seven runs while lasting just 31⁄3 innings — and this early exit came at the worst of times: The night before the Mariners plan to navigate a game solely with their bullpen.
McClendon said lefty reliever Lucas Luetge will be recalled from Class AAA Tacoma prior to today’s game. He’ll replace right-handed Stephen Pryor, who worked 12⁄3 innings after replacing Elias.
The Mariners recalled Pryor before Wednesday’s game after optioning right-hander Taijuan Walker to Tacoma. McClendon said the decision to return Pryor to the Rainiers had nothing to do with his outing.
“We were going to do it anyway,” McClendon said. “All in all, our bullpen is in pretty good shape. We came through it pretty (well).”
The Twins nicked Elias for one run in the first inning on a two-out RBI double by Kendrys Morales and took command with a four-run second. Chris Colabello’s two-run double was the key blow.
“I was just trying to do what I’ve been doing all year,” Elias said, “and it was just something I couldn’t get going today.”
Elias failed to survive a three-run fourth, although that wasn’t entirely his fault. A potential double-play grounder by Morales with one out and the bases loaded skipped past first baseman Logan Morrison for a two-run error.
The Mariners had a handful of chances through the first six innings against Minnesota starter Kyle Gibson but didn’t avoid a third shutout in four games until Robinson Cano’s RBI double in the seventh against Caleb Thielbar.
Gibson (8-7) gave up seven hits in six shutout innings before handing an eight-run lead to the bullpen.
“I don’t think he had his best stuff tonight,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said, “but he made due with what he had. We gave him some support … so he could relax and make pitches. And he did that.”
Thielbar, Jared Burton and Matt Guerrier closed out the victory, which clinched the season series for the Twins. They hold a 4-2 edge with only Thursday’s series finale remaining between the two teams.
The Mariners (49-42) have also lost back-to-back games for the first time since June 18-19 at San Diego. Elias has given up 17 runs over 141⁄3 innings in his last three starts.
“His stuff is pretty darn good,” McClendon said, “but you’ve seen guys like Justin Verlander go through it. When you don’t have command of the fastball … you’re going to get hit.”