The Seattle Mariners aren’t trying to invent new ways to lose games. It’s just sort of happening.
On Tuesday night, the Mariners dropped their fifth consecutive game of this homestand because of the slightest of body movements. It wasn’t far from a motion and not quite a spasm.
But with two outs and runners on the corners in the 10th inning, Seattle closer Danny Farquhar made the most minimal of hesitations as he went to start his delivery. Plate umpire CB Bucknor saw it and called a balk, allowing the go-ahead run — Ian Kinsler — to come home in what would be a 4-3 loss to the Texas Rangers at Safeco Field.
“He was looking in for his sign, and he started up and stopped, and moved his left shoulder,” Bucknor told a pool reporter postgame. “Any movement associated with his set position — he doesn’t come and stop — is a balk.”
When it happened, Farquhar argued immediately.
“I had to go back to the video to see it,” Farquhar said. “At the time, I had no idea. It was the slightest flinch, but it was a flinch. I didn’t feel like I did it at the time, but I went back and looked, and it was a balk.”
Mariners manager Eric Wedge didn’t put up much of an argument about it.
“It was very subtle, but enough to where it was a balk,” Wedge said.
Texas manager Ron Washington didn’t see it. Neither did Kinsler at third base nor Alex Rios, who was batting at the time.
“I just saw CB yelling ‘balk’ and started smiling,” Washington said.
While the balk will be remembered as the mistake that scored the run, Farquhar allowing Kinsler to easily steal third with one out was far more costly.
Kinsler was on second and got a read on Farquhar’s timing to home. After a few pitches, he took off, and there was really no chance of getting him.
“That was probably the biggest mistake of the inning was letting him get to third,” Farquhar said. “I should have held him on better. Letting him get to third with less than two outs, it’s not an ideal position to be in.”
After Kinsler scored on the balk, Farquhar struck out Rios to end the inning.
The Mariners tried to tie it in the bottom of the 10th, when Kyle Seager punched a one-out single to left field off Rangers closer Joe Nathan. Kendrys Morales struck out, but Justin Smoak drew a walk to prolong the inning. Nathan then got Michael Saunders to ground out into a game-ending fielder’s choice.
Realistically, the balk never should have happened because the Mariners should have won the game in regulation.
Saunders led off the bottom of the ninth with a sharp single off left-hander Neal Cotts. Wedge then called on Dustin Ackley to sacrifice-bunt Saunders to second. Ackley instead got a hit in the strangest way. He popped up a bunt that went over the head of a charging Cotts and landed behind the mound for a single.
But the Mariners’ good fortune quickly ran out. Washington brought in hard-throwing set-up man Tanner Scheppers to face a bunting Humberto Quintero. Like Ackley, Quintero popped the bunt up — but Scheppers caught it in the air for an out.
“It’s frustrating,” Wedge said. “It’s something we haven’t done a very good job with.”
Scheppers then coolly struck out pinch-hitter Nick Franklin and Brad Miller to send the game to the 10th.
The Mariners actually got off to a good start against Rangers starter Derek Holland, who has given them problems in the past.
Miller drew a leadoff walk, and Kyle Seager later drew a one-out walk. Morales dumped a double into right to score Miller, while Smoak plated Seager with a sacrifice fly to center field.
However, Seattle starter Hisashi Iwakuma couldn’t hold the lead. The Rangers scored three runs in the top of the second as Mitch Moreland, David Murphy and Elvis Andrus all collected RBI singles.
Seattle answered right back as Franklin Gutierrez blasted a solo home run to center field off Holland to lead off the third inning. Thanks to two lengthy disabled list stints, it was the first home run for Gutierrez since June 22.
Iwakuma and Holland shook off their early issues. Iwakuma worked four scoreless innings after the second, allowing just two hits. He was lifted after six innings, having allowed seven hits with a walk and seven strikeouts.
Holland didn’t allow another run after the Gutierrez homer. He also pitched six innings, giving up six hits with four walks and five firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8483 blog.thenewstribune.com/mariners @RyanDivish