An inability to close out a series with a victory continues to cripple the Seattle Mariners’ ability to gain any traction or sustained success.
This one, though, was particularly gut-wrenching: a 3-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels on a walk-off wild pitch in the 10th inning Sunday at Angel Stadium.
Tom Wilhelmsen had just positioned himself to escape a bases-loaded jam with no outs by getting Albert Pujols to ground into a shortstop-home-first double play.
But … Wilhelmsen then buried a 2-2 change-up to Kyle Kubitza that got through catcher Mike Zunino and permitted Kole Calhoun to score from third base.
“It was a change-up that cut on me,” Wilhelmsen said. “It usually doesn’t do that. Today it did. Pretty costly.”
The Mariners have now lost the final game in their past nine series. In all but one of them, a victory would have given them a sweep or a series victory.
Instead, they now find themselves eight games under .500, at 34-42, for the first time this season. They are also nine games behind first-place Houston as the season nears the midpoint.
“Anytime you lose, it sucks,” third baseman Kyle Seager said. “Losing sucks. Anytime you do it, it sucks.”
The Mariners, after blowing a one-run lead, were down to their final out when Seager pulled them even with a homer against Angels closer Huston Street.
That meant new life after the bullpen squandered six shutout innings by Felix Hernandez by yielding single runs in the seventh and eighth innings.
The Angels had a chance to win it in the ninth after Efren Navarro hooked a soft two-out double to right field against Fernando Rodney. A wild pitch moved Navarro to third, but Taylor Featherston grounded out.
That only delayed the pain.
Trevor Gott (1-0) got the victory after pitching a scoreless 10th inning. Wilhelmsen (1-2) was the loser.
Johnny Giavotella started the winning rally with a single on a grounder that struck Wilhelmsen, the seventh pitcher used by the Mariners. The ball caromed away, and Giavotella reached first before anyone could retrieve it.
Calhoun then lined a single into left that moved Giavotella to third.
An intentional walk to Mike Trout loaded the bases with no outs for Pujols as the Mariners shifted left fielder Dustin Ackley to the infield in hopes of increasing their chances for a double play.
Pujols’ grounder to shortstop Brad Miller was the perfect result. Then disaster. Wilhelmsen threw the change-up — and it got past Zunino.
“He throws one of the harder change-ups,” Zunino said, “and it cut a little bit. I got as low as I could to try to square it up, but I couldn’t get my body against it to stop it.”
Hernandez yielded just one hit in outdueling Angels starter Hector Santiago over six innings. The game’s only run to that point scored on Nelson Cruz’s RBI double in the fourth inning.
But Hernandez labored in the muggy heat over his last two innings. He worked around a pair of two-out walks in the fifth and started the sixth by walking Calhoun before getting Trout to ground into a double play.
“It was hot,” Hernandez admitted. “On that double play, I got a little cramp in my side.”
Hernandez completed the inning, but that was it.
“He was out of gas,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “Felix gave me everything he had. He was done.”
Charlie Furbush inherited a 1-0 lead to start the bottom of the seventh and began the inning by hitting David Freese with the first pitch.
After Kubitza replaced Freese as a pinch runner, Furbush threw a wild pitch to pinch-hitter Daniel Robertson. Kubitza took third when Robertson executed a sacrifice bunt.
That brought Mark Lowe into the game, and the Angels countered by sending up another pinch hitter, Erick Aybar, as the Mariners shortened their infield.
Aybar flicked an RBI single into left. The game was tied, and Hernandez saw a possible victory turn into a no-decision. Santiago also got a no-decision after holding the Mariners to one run in seven innings.
Los Angeles took the lead in the eighth after Featherston punched a leadoff single up the middle against Joe Beimel. Featherston moved to second on Giavotella’s sacrifice bunt.
Calhoun followed with a line-drive single to center for the go-ahead run. That loomed as the winning run until Seager’s dramatic homer.