As happened roughly a year earlier, also on a Sunday afternoon while playing the Angels, the Mariners learned they had been mathematically eliminated from postseason contention.
This was nothing like last year’s bittersweet, but generally feel-good, moment at Safeco Field, when the crowd stood and applauded the Mariners for a near-miss postseason.
This time, the Mariners are playing out the string in a deeply disappointing year. This 3-2 loss at Angel Stadium guaranteed Seattle will finish with a losing record.
“We shot ourselves in the foot with our base-running,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “And it came back to haunt us.”
That and a few other things.
Johnny Giavotella started the winning with a hustle double on a leadoff liner to center field in the eighth inning. Giavotella eluded the tag at second with a terrific slide.
“It was close,” second baseman Robinson Cano said. (Umpire Bob Davidson) said I tagged him up here (on the shoulder) after he was on the base. I couldn’t tell.”
After pinch-runner Taylor Featherston reached third on Erick Aybar’s sacrifice bunt, the Mariners replaced starter Hisashi Iwakuma with reliever Carson Smith and shortened their infield.
Kole Calhoun grounded a sharp single off the glove of first baseman Jesus Montero for the winning run. It was tough play to the right side for a right-handed first baseman.
“We got the ground ball,” McClendon said. “We just couldn’t glove it.”
So it goes.
The Angels’ game-winner came after the Mariners erased a 2-1 deficit earlier in the inning on Mark Trumbo’s pinch homer against Fernando Salas. A nice moment for a former Angel and an Anaheim native.
Trumbo said: “It was cool while it lasted, I guess.”
It didn’t last long and, as it turned out, Salas (5-2) got the victory when Mike Morin protected the one-run lead in the ninth inning for his first save.
Iwakuma (9-5) probably deserved better after limiting the Angels to three runs and eight hits in 7 1/3 innings.
“I was able to keep the team in the game,” he said, “but what cost me was that first hitter.”
Three different times. Mike Trout’s leadoff single in the fourth turned into a run that erased the Mariners’ 1-0 lead. David Freese’s leadoff homer in the fifth put the Angels on top. And Giavotella in the eighth.
The Mariners are now 74-82 and, with five straight losses, are limping to a finish that consists of six more home games.
Angels starter Jered Weaver pitched just five innings before handing a 2-1 lead to the bullpen. He gave up four hits and threw 71 pitches.
There was no renewal of the Weaver and Kyle Seager spat that flared 11 days earlier at Safeco Field, when angry words came from both before and after Weaver hit Seager with a pitch (and was ejected from the game).
But it was Seager who provided the Mariners with the first base runner when he doubled past first in the fourth inning after Weaver retired the first 10 batters.
Seager then ran himself into an out at third base by trying to advance on Nelson Cruz’s grounder to deep short. Base-running error No. 1, but the Mariners worked around it: Singles by Cano and Montero produced a run.
It was 1-1 in the fifth when Weaver started the inning by hitting Logan Morrison, who appeared to steal second — but the Angels appealed, and the call was overturned after a replay review.
Morrison came off the base late. Base-running error No. 2.
John Hicks then lined a two-out double to left for his second hit in 29 career at-bats. But he got caught napping when catcher Carlos Perez threw behind him for a pickoff.
“Instead of keeping track of the same distance every time,” Hicks said, “with (Weaver) being slow to the plate, I kept going (farther out). I got into no-man’s land.”
Base-running error No. 3.
Three free outs on a day on a day when the Mariners clinched a losing record and saw their postseason drought extended to 14 years.
MONDAY: Houston at Seattle, 7:10 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM