Mariners can’t complete comeback, bullpen disappoints again
It seems as though bullpen woes and the Seattle Mariners are two peas in a pod.
In what continues to be a nightmarish pitching year for the Mariners, Seattle dropped their first game to the Royals since April 9 of last year. The loss commenced a seven-game homestand against the two worst teams in baseball and reinforced a narrative that calls for additional bullpen assistance.
Before starter Tommy Milone took the mound, the Royals pounced early on Mariners opener Tayler Scott for two runs. Scott lasted just 0.2 innings and allowed 2 runs.
Seattle would answer with a run in the fourth inning on a Dee Gordon RBI groundout, and Tom Murphy blasted a 3-run home run in the fifth that propelled the Mariner lead to 4-2.
But the runs would ultimately represent the last for the Mariner offense. Milone maintained Seattle’s advantage and lasted through the seventh inning, while his 6.1 inning-gem featured just one run and three hits.
Despite Milone’s strong outing, the bullpen succumbed to a Kansas City offense that chipped away at Seattle’s lead. The Royals scored in each of the last three innings, highlighted by a two-run blast by Jorge Soler that put Kansas City back on top.
Despite another loss accredited to the bullpen, the Mariners showed resiliency, putting the first two men aboard in the final frame. But with the winning run at the plate and no outs, Kansas City retired the following three batters in order, closing the door on a 6-4 Royals victory.
If anything, the Mariners completed an error-free ballgame. Their performance keeps the Seattle error total at 81, which still sits last in the Majors (the Yankees are second-worst with 56).
The Royals — with just 26 errors, best in the majors — also completed a clean defensive game. Yet their 24-48 record is second to last in baseball, besting only the Baltimore Orioles.
Errors haunt teams. And even though both the Mariners and Royals avoided blunders Monday night, Seattle foreshadowed larger issues, shifting the spotlight to blown saves and bullpen implosions.
What arguably creates the majority of fan disappointment is the prominent contrast of bullpen confidence from last season, with previous dominance from former Mariners Alex Colomé and Edwin Díaz. Now, with a closer-by-committee approach by manager Scott Servais, Seattle no longer experiences the luxury of sitting comfortably with a one-run lead and three outs to play.
The loss dropped the Mariners back to 14 games below .500 at 31-45. On June 17 last year, the Mariners held a 46-25 record.
Yusei Kikuchi takes the mound Tuesday night hoping to put the Mariners back in the win column.