Mariners Insider

Tigers 5, Mariners 4 — another blown lead for the bullpen

Post by Ryan Divish on Sep. 19, 2013 at 2:36 pm with 5 Comments »
September 19, 2013 6:08 pm
Eric Wedge, left, takes the ball from Seattle Mariners relief pitcher Tom Wilhelmsen in the seventh inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit, Thursday, Sept. 19, 2013.  (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
Eric Wedge, left, takes the ball from Tom Wilhelmsen in the seventh inning. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)

The search for victories will have to continue in Anaheim because there were few to be found in the Motor City.

On Thursday, the Seattle Mariners dropped their third game of a four-game series at Comerica Park in Detroit with a 5-4 loss to the American League Central leading Tigers, thanks once again to another failed outing from an overworked and ineffective bullpen.

“I’m proud of our guys,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “We gave them everything they could handle these past four days. We aren’t looking for moral victories, but I am very appreciative to the way these guys are fighting and stepping up to these teams at the end of the year.”

Moral victories might be easier to find than regular victories. The Mariners fall to 67-86 on the season. With another loss, they will equal the number of losses from last season. And with nine games remaining against the Angels, Royals and A’s, it’s almost a certainty that they will finish with more losses than in 2012. That’s not exactly what was expected when the season began.

The Mariners had their chances in this game against old friend and teammate Doug Fister.

Seattle grabbed a quick 1-0 lead off of Fister in the top of the first with three straight hits, topped off with a Raul Ibanez RBI single.

But rookie James Paxton, who came into the game with a 2-0 record and a 0.75 ERA, didn’t quite have his best stuff, while facing a line-up significantly better than TampaBay and St. Louis – his only other big league starts.

“They have a great line-up,” Paxton said. “You don’t get any hitters off, you have to grind it out. Those middle of the line-up guys are really talented and you have to make good pitches to those guys. It was definitely a battle.”

The Tigers erased Seattle’s 1-0 lead immediately in the bottom of the first. Torii Hunter crushed a fastball over the left field wall for a solo homer and Prince Fielder later scored from first on Victor Martinez’s double to left-center.

The Tigers pushed the lead to 3-1 in third inning when Paxton issued a bases loaded walk to Omar Infante on four pitches.

“They really made him work early on,” Wedge said. “He didn’t quite have the same command that we’ve seen him out. But he responded to the work, and he didn’t give into them.

Paxton didn’t allow a run in the fourth or the fifth inning to end his day.

“It was definitely a battle,” Paxton said. “I didn’t have my best stuff today. You aren’t going to have your best stuff a lot of the times you go out there. You have to be able to battle and get through it. And give your team a chance to win.”

And that’s all Wedge asks of his starters.

“In some ways this start was more impressive than the first two because he didn’t have his best stuff,” Wedge said. “And I thought he was better in the end. I was still very impressed with his performance.”

Paxton’s teammates helped him out with some run support.

Dustin Ackley, who now resides just outside of Detroit, smacked a three-run homer to right field off of Fister in the fifth inning to give the Mariners a 4-3 lead. It was just his fourth homer of the season.

“He kind of left a change-up middle, middle away and I was able to make a good swing on it,” Ackley said. “I know that it feels right when I’m up at the plate.”

With Paxton at 95 pitches after five innings and the Mariners wanting to be careful with his workload this late in the season, Wedge had to go to his bullpen.

Tom Wilhelmsen got out of a self-made jam unscathed in the sixth, but in the seventh, he gave up a lead-off double to Hunter. A deep fly ball to right from Miguel Cabrera allowed Hunter to advance to third.

Wedge called on lefty Charlie Furbush to face the lefty-swinging Fielder with the runner on third. Fielder, who has feasted on Mariners pitching this series, singled into left to score Hunter to tie the game at 4-4.

Martinez then followed with a double down the left-field line. Fielder again tried to score from first on the play. Raul Ibanez chased down the ball, made a decent throw to shortstop Carlos Triunfel, who wheeled and made a solid relay throw to catcher Mike Zunino at home. Zunino sidestepped the sliding Fielder and tagged him on the upper shoulder and face, however home plate umpire Ron Kulpa called Fielder safe on the play.

“I know I got him that’s without a question,” Zunino said. “I know I tagged him. But he said he saw his foot get in there. He gets the final say, so that’s all you can do.”

Down 5-4, the Mariners couldn’t mount a rally. Nick Franklin ended the eighth inning with a double play and Seattle went down in order in the ninth against closer Joaquin Benoit.

After the early trouble, Fister lasted 7 2/3 innings, giving up the four runs on nine hits with a walk and 10 strikeouts. He became fifth Tigers starting pitcher to strike out 10 or more batters against the Mariners in seven games this season.

“I thought we did a good job of making him work,” Wedge said. “Fister is so efficient. He trusts his stuff and pounds the zone. He can throw anything, any time. I tip my cap to him. He went a lot deeper in the game than I thought he was going to.”


Leave a comment Comments → 5
  1. GGFHansen says:

    Have you forgotten Paxton’s win against the Cards on Saturday? They also are not Tampa Bay or Houston.

  2. My bad. The games are all starting to run together. got it fixed.

  3. Quinault says:

    Moral victories = higher draft pick in June. Oh, and a new coaching staff as I feel that the front office goes away – via retirement. This season will end up alright after all.

  4. montanajim says:

    Wedge is talking like a manager who knows he is on the way out.

  5. I would just like to say, for the record, that Wedge is a good manager. Hard to win games when for the majority of the season, your starting rotation included Joe Saunders and Aaron Harang (maybe if it was 2008 instead of 2013), and your lineup included 2 rookies at the top of the lineup and up the middle, a rookie behind the plate (to go with studs like Blanco), a lost season from Montero, oft-injured Michael Morse, massive regression from Ackley in the first half, and less than 50 games from Guti. The bullpen saw our closer implode, the 8th inning guy go down in the first month of the season, Capps not taking a step forward, etc. Wedge is not to blame for starters not being able to go deep in games, or veterans not producing. The youth movement will pay off in the long run, but this year’s team, with the way it was constructed out of ST, needed everybody to stay healthy and a certain degree of luck to be .500 or better.

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