One swing of the bat pretty much summed up and started all that went wrong in the Seattle Mariners’ 13-4 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Saturday at Great American Ballpark.
Leading 3-1 in the fourth inning, the Reds had two outs and a runner on second. Seattle manager Eric Wedge called for starting pitcher Jeremy Bonderman to intentionally walk No. 8 hitter Ryan Hanigan to instead face pitcher Mat Latos to get the third out of the inning.
Hanigan may have been hitting .197 coming into the game, but it’s common practice in that situation to walk the hitter to face the pitcher, who is considered a much easier out.
It was simple baseball logic by Wedge.
And of course, it backfired.
Latos jumped on the first pitch he saw from Bonderman – a fastball down the middle of the plate – and crushed it into the right-center gap for double that scored both run.
Nothing went right from there. Latos scored moments later on Shin-Soo Choo’s single to center and the Mariners would never lead again.
“That’s not the way we had it drawn up there in that situation,” Wedge said. “But it looked like a fastball up and over and he was ready to hit. He squared it up. That was a turning point early in the game.
Bonderman was not pleased with the result.
“I gave up a double to a pitcher,” he said. “For me, that’s unacceptable. I know he hits every day, but unacceptable. You got execute. I didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
Bonderman again struggled getting the third out in the fifth inning.
He got two quick outs, and then gave up a single to Jay Bruce, a walk to Jack Hannahan and a two-run double to Cesar Izturis.
“He just had trouble getting through innings,” Wedge said. “All those two out RBIs early on killed us. They were aggressive. They are an aggressive swinging ball club and they were just squaring the ball up today and hitting the ball over the place.”
Bonderman lasted just five innings, giving up six runs on seven hits with five walks (two intentional) and four strikeouts.
“I feel I was throwing the ball well until I gave up that hit (to Latos), and it kind of unraveled from there,” he said. “When you don’t execute, things aren’t going to turn out good.”
His two-out struggles transferred to the Mariners bullpen.
Right-hander Carter Capps, who hadn’t pitched since June 25, came in to pitch the sixth and gave up two-run double to Bruce and an RBI single to Jack Hannahan with two outs. Capps did bounce back with a 1-2-3 seventh inning.
“It’s been a little while for him,” Wedge said. “That’s why I wanted to send him out for the second inning. I felt like he was a little better there. He’s got to use all of his pitches. He has a great fastball, but he’s still learning how to use it.
In the eighth, Danny Farquhar gave up four runs (two earned) and one of those came with two outs.
In total, the Mariners gave up nine two-out runs on the day.
That’s not so good.
The Mariners offense was good early. Kyle Seager gave the Mariners a lift immediately, belting a two-run homer to right off of Latos.
“It was good to jump on the board early,” Seager said. “He’s one of the better pitchers going. He has really good stuff. That was my first time facing him. And that’s what guys who had faced him said. I got to see it first hand. Thankfully I was able to get ahead in that count and put a good swing on the ball.”
But there would be swings and misses that followed.
After the Seager homer, Latos struck out the next five batters he faced. He would allow two more runs over the course the next five innings and strike out a total of 11 Mariners hitters.
“We had opportunities to score runs today,” Seager said. “We got a few runs across early but weren’t able to do much after that.”
The Mariners struck out 14 times in the game – the most in a nine-inning game this season.