SEATTLE — A weekend sweep of the Oakland Athletics eluded the Seattle Mariners on Sunday — and they could have used it given who’s coming to town next.
The Mariners didn’t get much from their on-fire offense against left-hander Sean Manaea and fell 2-1 in the series finale Sunday. The loss halted the Mariners’ four-game win streak.
But they did take the series after winning the first two games, including collecting 17 hits and crushing four home runs on Saturday.
Sunday? Seattle (8-5) had just two hits, though one was Taylor Motter’s solo home run.
“Much different ball game today,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
Manaea lasted seven innings and dropped his ERA to 1.63.
“You got to give Manaea credit. He threw the ball really well,” Servais said. “Our offense had been going so good, so I didn’t expect to see that type of game out there today. That’s baseball. That’s the beauty of it.”
And there’s more talented pitchers to come.
The Mariners (8-5) get a few hours to prepare for one of the more loaded pitching rotations in the majors with the reigning World Series-champion Houston Astros coming to Seattle for a four-game series — the Mariners’ first meeting with Houston this year.
Seattle left-hander James Paxton faces Houston’s former Cy Young winner, left-hander Dallas Keuchel, in the opener.
“They got a good ball club,” Servais said. “They won the World Series last year, obviously. But that’s last year. We’re a different club. We’ll see.”
Not that Sunday was all bad.
Mariners starter Felix Hernandez pitched 6 1/3 innings in the longest of his four starts this season.
But he made one mistake: Jed Lowrie had the green light with a 3-0 count in the first inning. Hernandez’s 88.5 mph fastball caught the middle of the plate and Lowrie crushed it over the right-field wall for a two-run home run.
Lowrie entered the day tied for the most hits in the majors with Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons and the Padres’ Jose Pirela.
But probably the turning point in the game was a call that turned into a no-call.
Lowrie’s two-run shot came just after Hernandez looked to have Marcus Semien picked off at first base, only for the umpires to call it a balk.
“It wasn’t a balk,” Hernandez said, shaking his head. “Stepped off the rubber. I don’t know what happened there.”
The umpires met and ultimately agreed. But because the original balk call blew the play dead, Semien got to saunter back to first base for what amounted to a do-over.
That loomed large when Lowrie made Hernandez pay.
“I just tried to go sinker down and away,” Hernandez said. “But it didn’t sink enough. I didn’t know he was going to swing but he was patient and he made a good swing. It cost us the game right there.”
No run support for Felix Hernandez? What is this? 2010?
Actually, the last time Hernandez pitched at least six innings, allowed two runs or fewer and the Mariners lost was also against the Athletics — when he tossed seven innings, allowed no runs and struck out 10 on April 10, 2016.
But Hernandez didn’t blame the Mariners’ bats.
“No, I just give credit to the other guy,” Hernandez said. “He pitched a great game. It was tough for us.”
The Mariners had something going in the eighth inning, though, when Mike Marjama walked and speedy Dee Gordon followed with a bunt down the third-base line to Matt Chapman.
Chapman made an incredible play — quickly scooping the ball with his glove and gunning out Gordon at first, though it was really close. Officials went to the video review and confirmed the ruling.
“Not many get down the line quicker than Dee Gordon,” Servais said. “Chapman is an outstanding defensive player. I’ve seen Matt for a long time and he’s got one of the best arms in the league. And it’s kind of his play. He got after it and it was bang-bang at first. Thought it was going to go our way and it didn’t. Big play in the game.”
Gordon’s hit streak ended at 17 games dating back to last season with the Miami Marlins.
So when all was said and done, it amounted to a sacrifice bunt. Jean Segura then flew out to center field to end the threat.