The biggest cheer Saturday from the crowd of 33,801 came when Jay Buhner took the mound to make the ceremonial first pitch on a night that saw 20,000 Buhner bobblehead dolls handed out.
No surprise there. Buhner is an eternal fan favorite at Safeco Field.
The second biggest ovation came when Chooch Ruiz scored from third base in the sixth inning on a Jean Segura grounder to shortstop. This had a Bronx cheer quality. The Mariners trailed at the time by 10 runs.
This was a spit show from the beginning.
The Chicago White Sox whacked Yovani Gallardo for four runs in the first inning and rolled from there in administering a 16-1 flogging. It was the Mariners’ most-lopsided loss of the year, and it dropped them into last place.
"The ball was up in the zone from the start of the game," Gallardo said. "The most frustrating part is I never gave the guys a chance to come back and battle."
Gallardo (2-4) gave up 10 runs in 3 2/3 innings. Dillon Overton permitted two inherited runners to score and gave up five runs of his own in 4 1/3 wear-it-and-save-the-bullpen innings.
Then came the ninth inning.
Infielder Mike Freeman replaced Overton in another bullpen-saving move. The Mariners also put catcher Tuffy Gosewisch at first base. Freeman gave up three hits and one run.
"I don’t want to be in that situation," Freeman said. "It means that we’re behind by a significant amount when you throw somebody like me out there. I tried to save our bullpen an inning. I was able to do that."
Avisail Garcia led the Chicago assault with four hits, including two homers, and a career-high six RBIs. Matt Davidson and Willy Garcia also contributed homers to the 19-hit shellacking.
Mike Pelfrey (1-4) pitched the first six innings before Gregory Infante, Dan Jennings and Chris Beck closed out the victory.
It was sucko from the start for the Mariners and the big crowd.
Gallardo began the game by walking Yolmer Sanchez but induced a potential double-play grounder from Melky Cabrera, but Freeman boxed the ball and then stumbled.
The error put runners at first and second with no outs, and the White Sox capitalized. Jose Abreu lashed an RBI double to left, and Avisail Garcia followed with a three-run homer for a 4-0 lead.
Garcia homered again with two outs and nobody on base in the third inning.
"The first one was as curveball that caught to much of the plate," Gallardo said. "The second one, I threw some pretty good fastballs in that he kept fouling off. Then I tried to throw a changeup, and it stayed up in the zone.
Chicago knocked out Gallardo in a five-run fourth inning that extended the lead to 10-0. Cabrera’s two-run single before Avisail Garica, after Gallardo departed, drove a two-run double to center against Overton.
When the Mariners scored in the sixth, it only seemed to annoy the White Sox, who responded with a five-run seventh inning that included homers by Davidson and Willy Garcia.
"Not our night," manager Scott Servais said. "Not a good start at all. Fortunately, it counts as (only) one loss. From the get-go, Gallardo, as sharp as he was in his last outing, couldn’t get any rhythm in that first inning."
PLAY OF THE GAME: It required a great play by third baseman Kyle Seager to end Chicago’s five-run fourth inning.
Seager made a diving stop to his right on a Todd Frazier grounder and, from his knees, made an on-line throw to first for the out.
Shortstop Jean Segura also had two sparkling plays, on a grounder in the sixth and a line drive in the seventh. With those three web gems, the White Sox might still be batting.
PLUS: Taylor Motter had two of the Mariners’ five hits…as noted, the Mariners made some nice defensive plays…fans seemed happy with their Buhner bobbleheads…in other words, no much.
MINUS: Shortstop Jean Segura is hitless in eight at-bats over the last two games. Before that, he had a 17-game hitting streak…Nelson Cruz was 0-for-3 and has just one hit in his last 15 at-bats…Gallardo’s ERA spiked more than a run to 5.84 after giving up nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings.
STAT PACK: The Mariners’ most-lopsided loss this season prior to Saturday was 19-9 on April 21 at Detroit. That was the game that landed pitcher Felix Hernandez (shoulder bursitis) and outfielder Mitch Haniger (strained right oblique muscle) on the disabled list.
QUOTABLE: "They swung the bats very well," Servais said. "There were not a lot of cheap hits. The balls were hit hard."
SHORT HOPS: Freeman was the seventh position player to pitch in franchise history. The last was infielder Luis Sardinas on June 29, 2016 against the Cubs in Chicago…Avisail Garcia’s six RBIs are a career high. It was his fifth career multi-homer game. All have been two-homer games…the White Sox set season highs with 16 runs and 19 hits…the first eight players in Chicago’s lineup each had at least two hits.
ON DECK: The Mariners and White Sox conclude their four-game series at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field. The Mariners plan to recall right-hander Chris Heston from Triple-A Tacoma to start against Chicago left-hander Derek Holland (3-3, 2.43). The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners