The Mariners had to shuffle three of their four top spots Saturday night because of injury and it showed in the 3-1 loss to Texas.
Out were Michael Saunders (separated shoulder), Michael Morse (pinky fracture) and Franklin Gutierrez (leg tightness). Per usual, the Mariners are stepping lightly with the fragile Gutierrez whenever he has a hint of a problem. They’d rather lose him for a day than a prolonged period.
It’s going to be a few more days before Morse is back and a lot longer for Saunders. Their replacements were 3-for-12 thanks to two hits by Jason Bay.
The Mariners were 2-for-8 with runners in scoring position. It’s a definite common link in their losses.
Texas starter Alexi Ogando lasted just five innings for the Rangers, but allowed just a run.
“We made him work out there,” manager Eric Wedge said. “We didn’t capitalize on that. That’s where we have to do a better job of finishing off innings.”
Ackley has reverted to his old batting stance and shelved the timing mechanism he was using in spring training and at the start of the season. He was 1-for-4 Saturday night to raise — yes, raise — his average to .108. Wedge said Ackley made the decision after talking with him and hitting coach Dave Hansen.
“Just trying to get comfortable to where he’s in a better position to hit,” Wedge said.
Another of the Mariners youngsters had a difficult evening. Carter Capps allowed two runs and took the loss in an odd inning where he thought strike three should have been called to the lead-off hitter who scored and later threw a wild pitch to advance Elvis Andrus to third when he was trying to steal. It looked like Adrian Beltre wanted time to be called and was all the way out of the box by the time Capps delivered his fastball that was well wide of catcher Kelly Shoppach.
Capps’ ERA is now 7.71. He sat staring into his locker postgame.
“It was a weird one,” Capps said.
> The lack of hitting with runners on left Joe Saunders with a no-decision after another crisp home outing. Safeco Joe is now 7-0 with a 1.71 ERA in 11 career starts at Safeco.
> A rare error from Brendan Ryan put Saunders in trouble in the sixth. A crisp grounder from Ian Kinsler was head toward Ryan and seems a layup double play before it kicked up over Ryan’s glove and into his midsection. That left the Rangers with two on and none out. The Mariners ended the inning on an oddball 3-6-5 double play, but a run scored through the backdoor before it was completed.
Nelson Cruz hit a soft liner to Justin Smoak, who dropped it when Adrian Beltre blocked his vision. Smoak scooped the ball up and chose to throw to second instead of home. That produced a force out.
Ryan pivoted and threw to Kyle Seager at third, who eventually tagged out Ian Kinsler in a run down. But, Leury Garcia, who led off the inning with his first career hit, scored during the process to tie the game at 1.
“The ball should have been caught, first of all,” Smoak said. “It happened so quick, I just threw it to second. I thought (that was) our only chance was to get something out of it.
“Had a lot of things I could have done there. Thrown it home, tag Beltre and tag first … all that stuff is running through your head at one time.”
> Shoppach is 5-for-9 on the homestand and Jesus Montero sat for the second consecutive night.