For a few moments Saturday, the Mariners seemed to find life on a hot, sticky afternoon at Globe Life Park. But only for a few moments.
Otherwise, this was miserable 10-4 loss to the Texas Rangers.
Another one. The Rangers also won 10-4 in Friday’s series opener. They had not scored double figures in back-to-back games this season before the Mariners hit town.
Yovani Gallardo put the Mariners in a big hole when he continued his "One Bad Inning" tour by surrendering five runs in the first before settling into an effective rhythm.
"He couldn’t finish the inning," manager Scott Servais said. "We’ve seen that happen with Yo, the one big inning have gotten him all year. You've got to finish."
The Mariners closed to within 5-4 on Mike Zunino’s booming three-run homer in the sixth, but Texas answered later in the inning by pummeling reliever Dan Altavilla for five more runs.
Altavilla served up three home runs up in the strike zone.
"These guys handle the ball up pretty well," Zunino said. "It was going right into their swing."
And that was that.
The Mariners are now 33-37 and closer to last place than second place in the American League West Division. They must beat Yu Darvish in Sunday’s series finale to prevent the Rangers from completing a three-game sweep.
Gallardo (3-7) got two outs in the first inning before the roof caved in after Nomar Mazara beat the shift with a single to left. Adrian Beltre followed with a single to right, and Rougned Odor lined an RBI double.
Carlos Gomez made it 3-0 with a two-run single into center before Mike Napoli lofted a two-run homer to left.
"It was up, and (Napoli) took advantage of it," Gallardo said. "I thought he hit it well, but I didn’t think it was going to be a home run."
From two outs and nobody on base to five runs down in a span of 10 pitches.
"It’s frustrating," Gallardo said. "I’ve got to figure out how to stay away from that. It’s always that one inning."
The Mariners got one run back in the third inning on back-to-back doubles by Guillermo Heredia and Taylor Motter. They forced Texas starter Martin Perez to throw 34 pitches in the inning but settled for just the one run.
Perez (3-6) also stranded runners at first and third in the fifth inning but didn’t survive the sixth.
Nelson Cruz led off with a walk and went to second on Danny Valencia’s one out single before Zunino rocked a 463-foot homer to center on a full-count changeup.
"I was fortunate enough to finally get a changeup up," Zunino said. "He had a really good changeup today, and he kept coming after me with it. I had a feeling at 3-2, he might throw it."
That pulled the Mariners to within 5-4 and finished Perez.
"At that point," Servais said, "I felt good about going to Danny Altavilla. He hadn’t been out there for four or five days, but he got some balls up, and you can’t do that with this club."
It was Gallardo’s first inning all over again.
Altavilla served up a leadoff homer to Odor on a 371-foot drive to right. Altavilla then hit Gomez with a pitch before Napoli crushed his second homer of the day — a 442-foot drive to left.
After Motter booted Joey Gallo’s one-out grounder, Shin-Soo Choo turned around a 98-mph fastball for a 440-foot homer to center.
"To Odor, we were trying to go up and in," Altavilla said, "and it just kind of ran back over the middle. He got it. The other times, we were trying to go down, and it just rode up on me.
"That was a common theme. It was just up and over the middle."
The Rangers led 10-4, which is how it ended.
PLAY OF THE GAME: Elvis Andrus advanced from first to second on Mazara’s high fly to left field in the fifth inning when Ben Gamel was slow to throw the ball back to the infield.
The play had impact on the game. Gallardo stranded Andrus at second base. But it summed up the day.
PLUS: Rob Whalen, recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Tacoma, pitched two scoreless innings…Guillermo Heredia started for the first time in five games and went 2-for-4…17 of Motter’s 38 hits this season are for extra bases…Mitch Haniger had two hits and raised his average to .330.
MINUS: Gallardo’s 6.30 ERA ranks as the third highest in the majors among qualifying pitchers. Only Cincinnati’s Bronson Arroyo (7.01) and Baltimore’s Kevin Gausman (6.60) are worse…the Mariners are 1-4 in their last five games while being outscored 50-23…it was 95 degrees at first pitch, the hottest game of the season at Globe Life Park.
STAT PACK: Zunino’s three-run homer in the sixth boosted his June RBI count to 22, which is a record for one month by a Mariners catcher. Dan Wilson had 21 RBIs in April 1996.
QUOTABLE: Zunino is batting .325 (25-for-77) with seven homers and 24 RBIs in 22 games since his May 22 recall from Triple-A Tacoma.
"I’m not trying to pull the ball," he said. "That’s really been the focus."
SHORT HOPS: The Rangers placed right-hander Andrew Cashner on the disabled list prior to the game, retroactively to June 15, because of a strained left oblique muscle. They replaced him on the roster by promoting one-time Angels closer Ernesto Frieri from Triple-A Round Rock. They cleared space for Frieri on their 40-man roster by designating first baseman/outfielder Peter O’Brien or assignment.
ON DECK: The Mariners and Rangers complete their three-game series at 12:05 p.m. Pacific time Sunday at Globe Life Park.
Right-hander Christian Bergman (3-4 with a 5.75 ERA) will oppose Texas right-hander Yu Darvish (6-4, 3.03).
The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners