SEATTLE — If this wasn’t the Seattle Mariners’ death knell, that bell was ringing somewhere in the distance.
The Mariners turned listless Sunday in a 9-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays at Safeco Field, where the sleepiness of a September playoff race gone awry seemed to affect them all.
Jarrod Washburn continued a horrid stretch by the Mariners’ starting pitchers, lasting 413 innings before being pulled after allowing three runs on six hits and throwing 103 pitches.
The offense wasted opportunities to make Devil Rays starter Andy Sonnanstine look like the 5-9 pitcher he was, scoring two runs for the third straight game.
The end result was another blown opportunity to creep up in the standings. The Mariners remain alive, but barely with 14 games remaining.
They’re 812 games behind the first-place Angels in the American League West and 612 behind the Yankees for the AL wild card.
Since Aug. 25, when the Mariners were one game behind the Angels, they’ve gone 5-17. They’ve also blown six opportunities to make up a game in the standings when they lost on the same day the Angels did, including Sunday.
“It’s an uphill battle for sure,” manager John McLaren said. “We need a lot of help and we need to help ourselves. My main thought is to finish strong. Finish strong and see what happens.”
What happened Sunday was far from strong.
Washburn said he made only one bad pitch, when Carlos Pena hit his 40th home run in the fourth inning for a 1-0 lead, but lost for the fifth straight time.
“The only mistake I think I made the whole game was the home run to Pena,” Washburn said. “It’s frustrating. I thought I threw the ball well and didn’t have anything to show for it.”
He hasn’t had much to show for the past 212 months. Washburn, 9-15, is 1-9 with three no-decisions since July 4.
The Mariners’ offense was just as ineffective, especially with two solid scoring opportunities when they had a chance to get back into the game.
They trailed 3-1 in the fifth but put runners on first and second with nobody out. Then they left them all there when Jose Lopez struck out after failing to drop a sacrifice bunt, Jamie Burke flied out and Yuniesky Betancourt struck out.
And in the sixth, after Ichiro Suzuki singled, Adrian Beltre singled and Raul Ibanez walked, Sonnanstine silenced the only real excitement of the day among the 36,234 at Safeco Field.
He struck out Jose Guillen before Ben Broussard grounded into a double play to end the inning and, ultimately, all hope.
McLaren cleared the bench, sending minor league callups Nick Green, Adam Jones, Mike Morse and Wladimir Balentien to pinch-hit in the eighth inning. By the ninth, there were more changes, with Rob Johnson catching, Charlton Jimerson in right field, Willie Bloomquist at third base and right-hander Sean White on the mound.
Jimerson provided the last hurrah with a leadoff homer in the ninth before Bloomquist, Clement and Lopez all grounded out to end a bleak day.
Read Kirby Arnold’s blog on the Mariners at www.heraldnet.com.