It’s tough to win with one hit.
That’s all the Mariners got Friday night in a 2-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox in 10 innings at Safeco Field.
Even that one hit fell should be filed under the "excuse me" column. Danny Valencia got fooled by a Jose Quintana changeup in the second inning, swung late and beat an overshifted defense for a triple into the right-center gap.
That turned into the Mariners’ only run when Ben Gamel delivered a sacrifice fly.
For a while, amazingly, that one run seemed it might be enough for lefty Ariel Miranda, who carried a shutout into the sixth inning before hanging a slider to Cuban countryman Jose Abreu, who drove it into the upper deck in left field.
That was the only run that Miranda allowed in seven innings. Defrocked closer Edwin Diaz followed with two scoreless innings in an encouraging outing before the White Sox pushed across the winning run in the 10th inning.
Tony Zych began the inning by Kevan Smith, a .115 hitter, with a pitch.
Pinch-runner Leury Garcia moved to second on a sacrifice and to third on a infield grounder before Melky Cabrera pulled a too-fat slider on 0-2 into the right-field corner for a two-out RBI double.
That was it.
The four-game series, now tied at 1-1, continues Saturday night before concluding Sunday afternoon.
Three takeaways from Friday’s victory:
***Miranda delivers: Miranda was the first replacement part this spring when the Mariners began losing starting pitchers to the disabled list, but he’s building a case that should allow him to keep a job if and when everyone gets healthy.
He held the White Sox to one run and four hits in seven innings while striking out a career-high nine batters. It marked the fourth time in his last five starts that he surrendered two or fewer runs.
"He’s deceptive," manager Scott Servais said. "The fastball has that extra life on it. When you get guys on the fastball, he’s able to back off with his off-speed (pitches) and get some swings and misses. Bad swings."
Miranda also has 17 strikeouts over 12 innings in his last two starts.
"I think the big thing the last couple of starts," he said, "was being aggressive early and getting in a position to focus on the secondary pitches."
***Eddie on the rebound: As good as Miranda was, the most encouraging aspect of Friday’s game was two scoreless innings from Diaz, who lost his closer’s job earlier this week after a series of shaky outings.
The Mariners believe they’ve identified the problem: Diaz tends to rush through his delivery, which puts his arm out of sync with the rest of his body. The effect is he loses command of his slider and his fastball straightens out.
Friday marked Diaz’s first appearance since adjusting his delivery in bullpen workouts this week under the eye of pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre Jr.
One good outing doesn’t mean Diaz is fixed, but it was definite step in the right direction.
***Motter getting overexposed: The Mariners acquired Taylor Motter to serve as their utilityman — and they probably need him to go back to being a utilityman instead of logging virtual full-time duty as a replacement for injured players.
There were a lot of o-fers in Friday’s boxscore, but Motter’s 0-for-4 dropped his average to .217 and his on-base percentage to .286.
That’s borderline acceptable for a versatile player who plays occasionally — Shawn O’Malley batted .229 last season in that role with a .299 OBP. But Motter started 27 of the Mariners’ last 35 games.
Motter provided solid defense and significant thump last month when shortstop Jean Segura missed 12 games, but his production is now plummeting: 14-for-76 (.184) in his last 23 games with 22 strikeouts.
Motter figures to start the final two games this weekend against the White Sox because second baseman Robinson Cano is sidelined until at least Tuesday because of a strained quadriceps muscle.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners