SEATTLE — The quest for a playoff berth isn’t officially over for the Seattle Mariners, but hope now lies only with those who rely on mathematical possibilities.
A 7-4 loss to the Oakland A’s at Safeco Field on Tuesday, when the Mariners overcame one three-run deficit to tie the score and then gave it all back, pushed them into a near impossible situation with 19 games remaining.
The Mariners, losing for the 15th time in 17 games, fell 912 games behind the first-place Angels in the American League West Division and 612 behind the Yankees in the AL wild-card standings.
Both the Angels and Yankees won Tuesday while the Mariners’ homestand of opportunity — against two losing teams, Oakland and Tampa Bay — already has cost them the first series.
“I don’t know what I can say that we haven’t already said,” manager John McLaren said. “We need somebody to step to the plate and throw some zeroes on the board. We are getting frustrated, let’s be honest about it. We’re fighting through it, but it’s extremely difficult.”
It took two innings of A’s offense, aided again by the Mariners’ faltering pitching, to determine the M’s fate again.
Jarrod Washburn struggled with his control and pitched in trouble in all but one of his 52/3 innings, including a four-run fourth inning. Two of the Mariners’ young relievers, Eric O’Flaherty and Sean Green, couldn’t hold the A’s in a three-run sixth.
The Mariners’ offense against A’s left-hander Dallas Braden, who was 1-7 with a 6.63 ERA, consisted of Adrian Beltre’s solo home run in the third inning, a three-run rally in the fifth that tied the score 4-4, and frustration the rest of the night.
The Mariners out-hit the A’s 11-10 and put runners in scoring position in the sixth and seventh inning without scoring. Raul Ibanez grounded out with runners on first and third to end the sixth and Yuniesky Betancourt struck out with the bases loaded and two outs in the seventh.
Washburn gifted the A’s two of their runs, walking home two in the four-run fourth.
McLaren wasn’t around for the second walk — or the remainder of another rough night. He complained from the dugout after Washburn walked Donny Murphy to force home the first run, and plate umpire Chris Guccione ejected him.
Washburn walked the next batter, Kurt Suzuki, to force in another run and got Kevin Thompson to hit a fly for the first out of the inning, but Shannon Stewart singled to center field to drive in two runs, making the score 4-1.
The Mariners rallied in the fifth with three runs to tie the score, getting RBI singles by Ibanez and Kenji Johjima, plus an RBI fielder’s choice grounder by Jose Vidro to tie the score 4-4.
“I really thought we were going to win the game,” McLaren said.
Johjima was as responsible for the tying run as Vidro. He was forced out at second base but, as he slid into the bag, he held his arms high and was hit on the left wrist by Murphy’s throw to first.
Johjima, who rolled on the ground in pain before being escorted from the field, suffered a bruised wrist and his playing status is day-to-day.
The Mariners could only hope their success rate was that good.
Washburn escaped another jam in the fifth inning to keep the score tied, but couldn’t in the sixth after getting the first two outs.
Stewart singled and Washburn walked Daric Barton, with his last and season-high 122nd pitch of the game.
O’Flaherty took over and walked Nick Swisher to load the bases, and the M’s brought in Green to face Mike Piazza.
Piazza dumped a single to center field, driving home two runs, and Mark Ellis followed with a single to left that scored another, making the score 7-4.
Jorge Campillo, one of the Mariners’ minor league callups this month, pitched three perfect innings.
By then it was too late, just as the season has become.
“I don’t want to put any more pressure than anybody has on them now, but we need to do a better job, pitching and everything,” McLaren said. “I don’t know what else to say.”