By Bob Dutton The News Tribune
SEATTLE — The first impulse for any Seattle Mariners fan, after a game like Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the New York Mets, is likely to be a renewed call for general manager Jack Zdruriencik to find a bat to aid a suspect lineup.
So go ahead and grumble. Yell, even, if it makes you feel better.
This loss underscored the need for that bat, although all indications suggest Zduriencik is working to get one (or more). The Mariners appear to be linked though the rumor mill to every hitter who might be available.
Whatever happens, though, will come too late to reward a fine performance by right-hander Erasmo Ramirez, who worked seven strong innings after being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma.
Ramirez (1-5) matched a career high with 10 strikeouts while yielding just five hits but still exited trailing 2-1 because the Mariners mustered little against Mets right-hander Jacob deGrom.
New York immediately extended its lead when Lucas Duda crushed a one-out homer against Tom Wilhelmsen in the eighth inning. Duda’s drive struck the advertising board at the front of the second deck in right field.
That’s how it ended.
DeGrom (4-5) allowed only one run and five hits in seven innings before Jeurys Familia and Jenrry Mejia closed out the victory. Mejia pitched the ninth for his 12th save in 14 chances
Ramirez deserved better. The two runs he surrendered resulted largely from a decision by center fielder James Jones to gamble on a sliding shoestring catch with a runner at first and no outs in the second inning.
Jones failed to make the catch on Travis d’Arnaud’s sinking liner, and the result was an RBI triple. D’Arnaud scored later in the inning on a bloop single.
The last time that Ramirez worked seven innings in a big-league game was April 1 — yes, April Fool’s Day — in an 8-3 victory over the Angels in Anaheim, Calif.
That was the second game of the season.
That was 12 starts ago.
That was also Ramirez’s last victory in the big leagues. (He is 2-5 this season in 10 minor-league starts.)
The wild-card news wasn’t good, either.
The Mariners’ four closest pursuers all won, so their lead in the chase for the American League’s final postseason spot is down to 1 1/2 games over the Yankees and Blue Jays. The Indians are two back, and the Royals 3 1/2.
DeGrom appeared vulnerable in the first inning when the Mariners a runner at second with one out, but he struck out Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager.
Bobby Abreu then opened the second inning by poking a single past Seager at third, and d’Arnaud followed with a sinking liner into center field…and it was 1-0.
Ramirez struck out Kirk Nieuwenhuis but walked Juan Lagares after jumping ahead 0-2 in the count. Ruben Tejada then chipped a soft liner into short center for an RBI single and a 2-0 lead.
That was enough.
DeGrom yielded a single to Endy Chavez to start the first inning, but the Mariners didn’t get another hit until Willie Bloomquist squirted a one-out single through the right side in the fifth.
That quickly turned into the Mariners’ only run when Dustin Ackley drove an RBI double into the right-center field. A wild relay throw by second baseman Daniel Murphy to the plate permitted Ackley to take third.
Again, the Mariners couldn’t produce the hit they needed.
The Mets shortened their infield for Mike Zunino, whose fly to short left was too shallow to score the run. DeGrom held the lead when Chavez grounded out to second.