Despite getting another outstanding performance on the mound, the Seattle Mariners are on the verge of another series loss thanks to a light-hitting lineup and a defensive miscue on the potential final out.
Now the Mariners will try to awaken their slumbering bats Thursday and earn a split of a four-game set with the Texas Rangers when two struggling hurlers meet in Arlington.
After rookie Roenis Elias allowed one run over 6 2-3 innings in a 7-1 win in Monday’s opener, Seattle ace Felix Hernandez outpitched Yu Darvish while limiting Texas (8-7) to one run over seven-plus frames Wednesday.
The Mariners (7-7), however, lost for the fourth time in five games when Brad Miller’s two-out error opened the door for two unearned runs off closer Fernando Rodney. The tying run came home on a wild pitch before Leonys Martin delivered a single that gave the Rangers a 3-2 victory – their fourth win in the final at-bat at home this season.
"He comes up in that situation against one of the best closers in the game," manager Ron Washington said. "He just tried to put the ball in play, and it worked. It’s good for him, it’s good for the team, and we can build on it."
With one more defeat, Seattle would fall to 0-3-1 in four series since a season-opening road sweep of the Los Angeles Angels.
Mike Zunino and Abraham Almonte each went 2 for 4 with an RBI for the Mariners, who have totaled 10 runs while hitting .209 in their last five games. Their .227 average overall ranks among the lowest in the majors.
Seattle will try to provide some run support for Erasmo Ramirez (1-2, 5.63 ERA), who has given up eight runs and walked six over nine-plus innings while losing his last two outings.
Manager Lloyd McClendon was unhappy after the right-hander surrendered three runs and issued three walks over just five innings in a 3-1 home loss to the Athletics on Saturday.
"I didn’t see command of the fastball," McClendon said. "I didn’t see command of the secondary pitches. I’m very disappointed."
Ramirez, though, stymied the Rangers in his only career start against them last August. He allowed two runs – one earned – and four hits over seven innings before the Mariners pushed across a run in the ninth for a 4-3 victory in Arlington.
He’ll try to give Seattle a similar effort against a Texas team that has totaled just 18 runs while going 7 for 57 (.123) with runners in scoring position in its last seven games. Slugger Prince Fielder went 0 for 4 Wednesday to drop his average to .172.
Texas right-hander Tanner Scheppers (0-1, 7.88) has gotten off to a rough start in his first season as a starter, allowing five or more runs in two of his three outings. On Saturday, he surrendered five runs – all in the fourth inning – over seven frames in a 6-5, 10-inning home loss to Houston.
Scheppers was a reliever in his first two seasons with the Rangers, going 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA over 10 2-3 innings in 11 appearances against the Mariners.
Former Texas slugger Justin Smoak is 3 for 3 with two homers against Scheppers over the past two seasons. Smoak has hit safely in each of the first three games of the series.