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Sunday afternoon delivered the most lopsided loss in Seattle Mariners history. The 21-1 drubbing, courtesy of an Astros team the Mariners have beaten just once this season in 17 tries, marked the first time the club has ever allowed 21 runs. It was the first time in history Seattle has lost by 20 runs.
“We got hammered,” Mariners manager Scott Servais told reporters in Houston. “What can you say?”
The run differential in this game broke Seattle’s previous franchise-worst, a 20-3 loss to Detroit in 1993.
Gerrit Cole struck out 15 batters on his birthday — the Mariners struck out 17 times total — and the only run he allowed was rookie Shed Long’s homer in the fourth inning. It was also Seattle’s only hit.
Felix Hernandez, meanwhile, allowed 11 runs (seven earned) across two innings in one of the shakiest outings of his career. And, the Astros piled on 10 more runs against three Seattle relievers.
Houston had 22 hits, 13 for extra bases, 11 doubles, two homers, scored 13 of its runs in the first three innings, and completed its fourth sweep of the Mariners this season.
But, as dispiriting as a loss as lopsided as this one is, remember, it’s been almost this bad several times in the past. This loss to the Astros was certainly the worst, but in their 43rd season of existence, the Mariners have lost by double-digit runs 141 times — or, nearly the same amount of games played in an entire baseball season.
In 2019 alone, they’ve lost by 10 or more runs in eight games, and this season still has 18 games remaining. The only season the Mariners have lost more games by double-digit runs in their history was the inaugural season in 1997, when they lost nine.
Keeping in mind that there’s still time to add to this list in September, here’s a look at the 10 most lopsided losses in Mariners history.
1. ASTROS 21, MARINERS 1 (Sept. 8, 2019)
Like Servais said above, “What can you say?” This season ranks among Seattle’s worst in the past four decades — and had the potential to be the worst if not for that peculiar 13-2 start.
This loss to the Astros signals just how much separation there is between the top of the American League West and the bottom. Houston has outscored Seattle 117-62 this season.
Seattle’s only win over the Astros was in June, and amusingly, a lopsided 14-1 win that included five Mariners homers and a complete-game effort by Mike Leake.
But, that is long forgotten. Sunday’s loss was the Mariners’ sixth straight, matching a season-high for the fourth time. The Mariners are 58-86 entering Tuesday’s homestand, and the mathematical possibility they reach 100 losses for the sixth time in club history still exists.
2. TIGERS 20, MARINERS 3 (April 17, 1993)
The former most lopsided game in Mariners history stood for more than 26 years. The Tigers routed Seattle with a season-high 20 hits, including three-run homers from Mickey Tettleton and Rob Deer.
Gary Thurman had a triple, Cecil Fielder and Chad Kreuter each had doubles. Seven of the 10 batters Detroit sent to the plate had multiple RBIs, with Tettleton and Thurman leading the way with four apiece.
Mike Hampton logged the loss in his MLB debut, allowing four earned runs in 2 1/3, and each of the four relievers the Mariners used gave up multiple runs.
Jay Buhner scored two of Seattle’s runs, on a groundout and a solo homer. And Ken Griffey Jr. scratched across the Mariners’ only other run in the eighth after doubling, advancing on a balk and scoring on a wild pitch.
3. WHITE SOX 19, MARINERS 3 (Aug. 9, 2000)
Throughout their history, the Mariners haven’t fared incredibly well against teams with names that include “Sox.”
They’ve lost to both the White Sox and Red Sox by double-digit runs 14 times since 1977 — more than they’ve lost to any other teams in baseball by that margin. (Also: 13 double-digit losses to the Rangers, 12 to the Angels and Yankees, 10 to the Tigers and Twins.)
This 16-run loss was the worst of those “Sox” losses, though. Jamie Moyer served up 11 earned runs on 13 hits in 3 2/3. It was the worst start of his 25-year career in the majors. Robert Ramsay gave up eight more runs (five earned) in two innings of relief.
All 19 of Chicago’s runs were scored in the first six frames, thanks to five doubles and four homers. Frank Thomas went 3-for-4 with two dingers, a double, a walk and a team-leading five RBIs.
Chris Widger had a solo homer for the Mariners, Buhner had a pair of doubles, and David Bell and Dan Wilson each drove in a run.
4. INDIANS 17, MARINERS 2 (Oct. 13, 2001)
Each of the final seven entries on this list have a run differential of 15, but we’ll consider this one the worst. It was the playoffs, after all.
The Mariners scored the game’s first run, when John Olerud drew a bases-loaded walk off C.C. Sabathia to drive in Ichiro, but it went downhill from there.
Mariners starter Aaron Sele (four runs) and relievers Paul Abbott (eight) and Jose Paniagua (five) got hammered as the Indians cranked out 19 hits and Omar Vizquel racked up six RBIs. He was a homer short of the cycle. Juan Gonzalez and Kenny Lofton each homered.
Ichiro’s single in the eighth drove in Seattle’s only other run, and ended Sabathia’s outing, but four Cleveland relievers shut the Mariners out the rest of the way.
For what it’s worth, it’s the only double-digit loss in Seattle’s playoff history, and the Mariners did win the series, 3-2, to advance to the ALCS.
They lost to the Yankees in five games there, of course, and haven’t been back to the playoffs since.
5. ANGELS 18, MARINERS 3 (May 21, 1997)
Dennis Martinez didn’t make it out of the second inning, allowing seven earned runs, and the four reliever the Mariners used after him weren’t much better. It wasn’t until Norm Charlton pitched a scoreless eighth that a member of Seattle’s bullpen tossed a clean frame.
Gary Disarcina led the Angels with four RBIs, while Darin Erstad and Dave Hollins each had three. Jim Edmonds, Jack Howell and Craig Grebeck each homered.
Seattle got a homer from Buhner, and Russ Davis and Joey Cora each drove in runs, but the Mariners also struck out seven times against Angels starter Chuck Finley.
6. WHITE SOX 16, MARINERS 1 (May 20, 2017)
For this run of 16-1 losses, let’s just go in order of how recent it was. Here are the White Sox again — the team current Mariners catcher Omar Narvaez used to play for. (He had two hits in this game.)
Avisail Garcia had two doubles, two homers and six RBIs as Chicago collected 19 hits and struck out just four times in 43 at-bats. Seattle starter Yovani Gallardo allowed 10 runs (nine earned) in 3 2/3.
The Mariners managed just five hits, and Jean Segura drove in their only run in the sixth.
7. REDS 16, MARINERS 1 (June 22, 2007)
Remember when Griffey played for the Reds? This was one of those games, and he had a hit, but also struck out three times.
The rest of Cincinnati’s squad pummeled the Mariners, though. David Ross (five RBIs) and Brandon Phillips (three) each had two homers, Josh Hamilton had another, and Seattle starter Ryan Feierabend (nine runs allowed) was knocked out in the third inning.
Ichiro, Raul Ibanez and Jose Vidro each recorded singles for Seattle’s only three hits. Willie Bloomquist drove in the only run in the fifth.
8. A’S 16, MARINERS 1 (April 17, 1981)
Tony Armas (three hits, five RBIs), Cliff Johnson (four hits, three RBIs) and Rickey Henderson (three hits, three RBIs) beat up on Seattle’s pitching staff, and each had a homer.
Starter Floyd Bannister (eight runs allowed), Dick Drago (two) and Jim Beattie (six) each served up homers in this early-season beatdown.
A’s starter Steve McCatty tossed a complete game, allowing just four hits and one run on Dave Henderson’s second-inning solo homer.
9. ROYALS 16, MARINERS 1 (April 24, 1977)
Give this Mariners team a break. This was just the 18th game in club history, and the Royals won 102 games that season.
Five Kansas City batters logged multiple hits, led by Hal McRae’s 4-for-5, three RBI day, Al Cowens’ three-run homer, and a trio of singles by George Brett. Each of the four pitchers the Mariners used gave up multiple runs, with starter Gary Wheelock serving up six (five earned).
Seattle managed just one run — Craig Reynolds hit a solo homer in the eighth — on five hits off of Jim Colborn.
10. TWINS 15, MARINERS 0 (July 10, 1977)
The first and worst of the 36 double-digit shutouts the Mariners have endured during the past four decades.
Seattle starter Stan Thomas (five runs allowed) lasted just one inning, and Bill Laxton (three) and Mike Kekich (seven) struggled to get the Mariners to the finish line.
Eight Twins had at least one hit, and six had at least one RBI, led by Roy Smalley, who drove in four runs.
Meanwhile, Geoff Zahn tossed a complete-game shutout for Minnesota. Carlos Lopez, Bill Stein and Juan Bernhardt had Seattle’s only three hits. None were for extra bases.