CLEVELAND — The play that symbolized Sunday for the Seattle Mariners, and maybe all of April, actually had no impact on their 12-4 blowout loss to the Cleveland Indians at Progressive Field.
It was 1-1 with two out in the first inning, and the Indians had rookie starter Chase De Jong in a jam with runners at second and third when Jason Kipnis lofted a foul pop between home and first base.
Dan Vogelbach rumbled in from first base, stumbled and fell like a slow-motion rock slide. The ball dropped untouched. It was inexplicably ruled a “no play” by official scorer Bob Maver, and the inning continued.
“The ball just took off behind me,” Vogelbach said. “I went to take a step back, and my feet just went out from under me.”
De Jong worked around Vogelbach’s slip by retiring Kipnis on a fly to right, but it was a temporary reprieve.
The Mariners collapsed shortly thereafter when the Indians knocked out De Jong (0-2) in an eight-run third inning that built on the foundation established by Vogelbach’s majestic misplay. There was an RBI triple that right-fielder Ben Gamel lost in the sun, a run-scoring error by shortstop Jean Segura that was, also inexplicably, scored a single. And some remarkably ineffective relief work by Casey Fien.
De Jong gave up six runs and nine hits in 2 2/3 innings.
“I need to be able to know where I’m throwing the ball at all times,” he said. “That’s what got me here. That’s how I have success. … It was on me. I did not execute well today at all.”
It was, perhaps, an appropriate way for the Mariners to exit April.
They are 11-15 and at the bottom of the American League West. Forty percent of their rotation is on the disabled list. Their bullpen is seeking equilibrium, and their attack, while potent, has some major holes.
“Very inconsistent,” said designated hitter Nelson Cruz, who went 2-for-3 with his fifth homer in six games. “A lot of ups and downs. It looks like we’re going to roll, but then … we just have to keep battling.”
The Mariners spent April shuttling players to and from Triple-A Tacoma because of injuries and poor performances. Look for more moves prior to Tuesday’s series opener against the Angels at Safeco Field.
“It is still early in the season,” manager Scott Servais said, “and we have scuffled through. A few injuries and guys trying to get right with the bat. But I still like our team. I really do.
“I believe in our guys, but it will be good to get home.”
The eight-run third inning put the Mariners in an 9-1 hole. They rallied with three runs in the sixth inning, which knocked out Indians starter Josh Tomlin, but that was it.
Tomlin (2-3) gave up four runs in five-plus innings, which actually lowered his ERA from 9.33 to 8.87, so there was opportunity Sunday for the Mariners. Opportunity wasted.
Like much of April.
Guillermo Heredia started in center field and was 3-for-4, which raised his average to .327. … Cruz had a homer, a single and a walk in four plate appearances. He is batting . 315. He has a 10-game hitting streak and is batting .471 (16-for-34) in that span, with five homers and 15 RBI. … Lefty Dillon Overton saved the bullpen by pitching five solid innings. An error opened the way to Cleveland’s three-run seventh. … Fien’s ERA is up to 15.00 after giving up two runs and three hits in one-third of an inning. He also allowed an inherited runner to score. … Boog Powell was 0-for-3 in his big-league playing debut.