When Jesus Montero homered in the 11th inning for a 2-1 lead tonight, the Seattle Mariners were three outs from going 12-12 in April and saving what had already been a tough night.
The game and the month slid away when Brandon League gave up one run in the bottom of the 11th, then another in the bottom of the 12th and Tampa Bay rolled home with a 3-2 victory.
Along the way, Felix Hernandez pitched another dominant no-decision – the third time this season he’d allowed one run or less in eight innings and not won. And catcher Miguel Olivo strained his right groin, landing the Mariners hottest hitter on the disabled list.
If you’re wondering, it breaks down this way: The Mariners will go with catchers Montero and John Jaso and almost certainly bring Mike Carp up from Tacoma and activate him.
There are other issues facing Seattle in May:
- How long does the team stick with the Chone Figgins as leadoff man experiement? After 22 games started, he’s batting .205 and has scored 10 runs.
- What does the team do with shortstop Brandon Ryan, who is batting .136 after going 0-for-3 tonight and striking out each at-bat?
The Mariners had plenty of chances to win this one, none bigger than in the ninth inning, when Kyle Seager and Olivo singled to put runners on first and third base with one out for Michael Saunders.
Pinch-runner Munenori Kawasaki was at third when Saunders dropped what appeared to be a safety squeeze – and odd call from the bench given how well the left-hander had been hitting lately.
Except the call didn’t come from the bench.
“He bunted on his own, and we’ve already talked about it,” manager Eric Wedge said. “If we do that, it’s going to come from me and give Kawasaki a better chance to get home.
“It was a mistake. He’ll learn.”
A chastised Saunders said the problem was more the location of the bunt – too close to the mound – not the idea.
“If I get it two feet to the left, we’re not having this conversation,” Saunders said. “I wasn’t not seeing the ball too well tonight, and I took it upon myself, I did it on my own.
“I guess it was the wrong decision.”