And so it ended.
The Mariners closed out a disappointing season Sunday afternoon in a fitting manner with a 6-2 loss to the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium.
Much like the season, it wasn’t all bad. Just mostly bad.
Specifically, James Paxton provided an encouraging sign by pitching six scoreless innings, which sends him into the offseason reassured that his latest injury, a strained left pectoral muscle, is behind him.
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“I felt I was back to 100-percent form,” he said. “It was good to get that feeling back before the end of the season. It was a good productive day for me to go out there and feel like I was on top of my game.”
That was about it, though, unless you count Mike Marjama’s first career home run, which came in the eighth inning against Angels reliever Jose Alvarez. That was a feel-good moment for a 28-year-old rookie from California.
“You dream about it your whole life,” he said. “It is definitely a cool feeling. And for me to do it here in California, with some friends and family here, was definitely a pretty cool experience.”
As for everything else…
The Angels broke open a scoreless game after Paxton departed by pummeling Shae Simmons and James Pazos in a six-run seventh inning that included four hits, three walks and a potential double-play grounder that failed to produce an out.
It was as grim as it reads.
Eric Young Jr., who entered the game as a replacement for Mike Trout in the fourth inning, delivered the knockout blow with a three-run home run against Pazos.
It means the Mariners finished the season at 78-84 — eight games worse than last year — and in a third-place tie with Texas in the American League West Division and 23 games behind first-place Houston.
The Mariners also extended their MLB-worst postseason drought to 16 seasons.
The final game also, fittingly, produced one last head-shaking baserunning snafu.
It came in the fourth inning after Ben Gamel reached safely on a leadoff grounder when the throw by shortstop Andrelton Simmons skipped past first baseman C.J. Cron.
Umpire Jerry Meals, the crew chief, ruled Gamel took two steps toward second base before returning to first. So when Cron applied a casual tag, Gamel was called out.
“He did not make an attempt toward second base in my opinion at all,” manager Scott Servais said. “But it’s a judgment call. You can not review that play.”
Paxton was dominant in lowering his ERA to 2.98. He gave up three hits, all singles, while striking out nine and walking none in an efficient 73-pitch performance.
“It’s exactly what we were hoping to see,” Servais said, “and what he wanted to feel walking off the mound at the end of the year. He was rhythm today with his delivery.
“It was an up-and-down with the injuries for him, but performance-wise, he really took the next step. I look forward to having him for a complete season next year, which is the goal.”
The Mariners wasted Paxton’s effort when their attack turtled against Angels starter Parker Bridwell, who outlasted Paxton and improved to 10-3 by yielding just three hits, all singles, in seven shutout innings.
Luis Valbuena ignited LA’s six-run seventh inning with a leadoff walk against Simmons and moved to second on Shane Robinson’s hard ground single into center.
Cron hit a potential double-play grounder to third, but Robinson beat the throw to second, and Cron beat the relay to first. Safe all around. That left the bases loaded with no outs.
Cliff Pennington then delivered a sacrifice fly to left for a 1-0 lead. The other runners moved up to second and third. Simmons (0-2) then reloaded the bases by walking Kaleb Cowart.
Juan Graterol’s sacrifice fly to right made it 2-0 and prompted a pitching change to Pazos, who surrendered an RBI single to Ben Revere before serving up Young’s homer. That quickly, the lead was 6-0.
***Stuck on 39: Nelson Cruz finished with 39 homers, which means he fell one short of becoming the 15th player in history to reach 40 in four consecutive seasons.
He still finished with another milestone: The first RBI title in his career.
Cruz drove in a career-high 119 runs and became the fourth player in franchise history to lead the American League in RBIs. Ken Griffey Jr. did it with 147 in 1997, Edgar Martinez with 145 in 2000, and Bret Boone with 141 in 2001.
***Bash brotherhood: The Mariners hit 48 homers in September for their highest total in a single month since they moved in July 1999 from the cozy Kingdome to Safeco Field.
They hit 48 or more on four previous occasions in a single month: 58 in May 1999, 55 in August 1997, 50 in June 1997 and 48 in September 1997.
Cruz and Kyle Seager each had eight homers in September. Mitch Haniger had seven, and Mike Zunino had six. Yonder Alonso, Robinson Cano, Ben Gamel and Jean Segura each had four.
Jacob Hannemann, Carlos Ruiz and Carlos Ruiz each had one.
One other note: Marjama’s homer Sunday was the Mariners’ 200th of the season. They gave up 237.
***Other notables: Ben Gamel (27) and Mitch Haniger (25) are the first pair of rookies in club history to finish with 25 or more doubles…Nick Vincent’s 29 holds are the second-highest total in club history. Arthur Rhodes had 32 in 2001…When Haniger went 5-for-5 with three doubles Saturday, he became the first rookie in more than 40 years to have five hits and three doubles in the same game. Montreal outfielder Warren Cromartie, on July 4, 1977, was the last to do it…Jean Segura didn’t play and finished the season with .300 average. He is third shortstop in franchise history to achieve that milestone. Alex Rodriguez did it four times, and Felix Fermin did it once.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners