Catcher Mike Zunino tries to steady Edwin Diaz after Diaz gave up a tie-breaking RBI double in the ninth inning to Oakland’s Ryon Healy. John Froschauer AP
Catcher Mike Zunino tries to steady Edwin Diaz after Diaz gave up a tie-breaking RBI double in the ninth inning to Oakland’s Ryon Healy. John Froschauer AP

Mariners Insider Blog

Seattle Mariners news and analysis

Mariners Insider Blog

Mariners back on the skids after Diaz gives up late run in loss to Athletics

July 08, 2017 11:16 PM

SEATTLE

The knee-jerk reaction Saturday is to focus on a poor pitch from Edwin Diaz that turned into a two-out RBI double in the ninth inning that sent the Mariners to a 4-3 loss to the Oakland Athletics at Safeco Field.

That’s not unreasonable.

Diaz hung an 0-2 slider to Ryon Healy with runners at first and second. Healy rammed the ball into the right-center gap, and the ball hopped the wall for an RBI double.

"I was one pitch away," Dias said, "and I missed on that slider. I threw the fastball up and in, and he looked bad. I could have gone back to that fastball again, but I decided to throw a slider.

"I missed it in the middle, and he hit it pretty good."

Even manager Scott Servais conceded: "You hate to focus in on one pitch. But in the ninth inning of a tie game, sometimes it does come down to one pitch."

Even so, the Mariners let this game slip away early by doing too little against Chris Smith, a 36-year-old journeyman who made his first big-league start after being promoted earlier in the day from Triple-A Nashville.

Smith matched Mariners rookie Andrew Moore in allowing just three runs in six innings. That allowed the Athletics to play to their strength, a strong bullpen.

"I thought he pitched great," Oakland manager Bob Melvin said. "I mean, that’s not the easiest of lineups, and actually some of those guys had faced him before, too.

"He gave us six (innings) and allowed us to go to the three guys that we (use when tied or leading). So he did every bit of his job and probably a little bit more. It was fun to see."

That depends on your perspective.

"We had some chances early," Servais said, "and didn’t put quite enough pressure or get enough traffic going against Chris Smith. He kept us off-balance, obviously.

"We had good information and good scouting reports. We just didn’t make quick adjustments."

Diaz (2-3) inherited a tie game to start the ninth inning.

Rajai Davis led off with an infield single and stole second when Matt Joyce swung through a third strike. After Marcus Semien flied to left, the Mariners intentionally walked Yonder Alonso.

That got the game to Healy.

"He had an 0-2 count and made a mistake," Servais said. "He left a ball right in the middle of the plate. In this league, middle-lineup guys are going to make you pay."

Santiago Casilla closed out Oakland’s victory by working around a two-out double for his 15th save. Sean Doolittle (1-0) got the victory after pitching a scoreless eighth inning.

This was the Mariners’ 10th loss in 13 games and their ninth loss in their last 10 home games. They are 42-47 with only Sunday’s series finale remaining before the All-Star break.

"It’s just baseball, man," said center fielder Jarrod Dyson, who had a double and a homer in three at-bats. "It’s one of those things. Things aren't going our way.

"But at the same time, everybody realizes there are a lot of games left to play. We’ve just got to go out there and get back to playing Mariners baseball.

"I think all of that will come with a couple of wins. A sweep. Or just winning a couple of back-to-back series. We’ll be right back where we need to be."

Instead of where they are.

PLAY OF THE GAME: Right fielder Mitch Haniger made a running two-out catch on a Rajai Davis’ drive into the corner with two runners on base in the fourth inning.

PLUS: Jean Segura went 2-for-4 and raised his average to .355, which leads the American League. Segura is seven plate appearances shy of qualifying for the rankings, but adding an 0-for-7 to his totals still leaves him with the league’s highest average…Nick Vincent pitched a scoreless eighth inning and has not allowed a run this season in 19 innings over 20 appearances at Safeco Field…

MINUS: Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz and Danny Valencia were each hitless in four at-bats…Mike Zunino was 0-3 with two strikeouts. He has just three hits in his last 36 at-bats while striking out 15 times.

STAT PACK: Moore began his career by facing 69 batters before issuing a walk. It came to Bruce Maxwell with one out in the fourth inning after being ahead 1-2 in the count. It is longest stretch without a walk at the start of a career in Mariners history. Moore then walked the next hitter, Matt Chapman, also after being ahead 1-2 in the count.

QUOTABLE: "My confidence is great," Diaz said. "That’s going to happen. You have to flush it and be ready tomorrow. It’s a tough loss, but we’ll be here tomorrow."

SHORT HOPS: The Athletics made a series of roster moves prior to the game, which included selecting Smith’s contract from Triple-A Nashville. They also activated catcher Josh Phegley from the paternity list, optioned infielder Franklin Barreto to Nashville and designated catcher Ryan Lavarnway for assignment.

ON DECK: The Mariners and White Sox conclude their four-game series and their pre-break schedule at 1:10 p.m. Sunday at Safeco Field.

Right-hander Felix Hernandez (3-3 with a 5.04 ERA) will oppose Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett (1-3, 6-23).

The game can be seen on Root Sports Northwest and heard on 710 ESPN and the Mariners Radio Network.

Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners