Joe Saunders had a bad night. That’s the most succinct summary of Tuesday’s game that can be provided.
It was out of character with Saunders’ recent run. He’s often pitched well at Safeco (10-2, 2.31 ERA in 16 prior career starts) and had been pitching very well of late, with a tidy 1.82 ERA over his last five starts.
Pittsburgh whacked his pitches all around the park. Saunders lasted just 1 ⅔ innings since he allowed six earned runs, including three home runs. He is first Mariners pitcher to allow three home runs in an inning since Hector Noesi pulled the grisly trifecta June 29, 2012, against the Red Sox.
“Falling behind hitters, balls up in the zone, balls down the middle of the plate,” Saunders said. “I could go on and on.”
Saunders said a poor outing like this is easier to flush from memory than an eight-inning outing of allowing just a run, but losing.
Some quick notes and quotes:
> Former closer Tom Wilhelmsen had his best outing in almost a month. He struck out the side in the seventh. Two of those strikeouts were the result of Pirates hitters watching curveballs. It was Wilhelmsen’s first clean inning since May 31.
“I told him for the last few outings that his stuff’s been great,” catcher Mike Zunino said of Wilhelmsen. “He’s made a couple mistakes, missed on some pitches, but his stuff’s there. I think it’s just a matter of getting his confidence back.”
> Justin Smoak and Kyle Seager homered. It was Seager’s 10th homer of the year and fourth off a lefty.
> Carter Capps allowed two homers. He keeps grooving fastballs. They keep getting launched.
> Solid turnout in support of the Pirates, who have won five consecutive games and are 47-30.