Plays not made and opportunities missed. The Seattle Mariners can point to both Thursday afternoon in assessing their numbing 5-4 loss to the Baltimore Orioles.
The Mariners rallied from a four-run deficit, which occurred after starter J.A. Happ failed to execute a potential double play in the first inning, and had prime chances to pull off a momentum-building comeback victory.
They left the bases loaded in the seventh and eighth innings before letting the game slip away after a leadoff single in the Baltimore eighth skipped off the glove of shortstop Chris Taylor.
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All that and more — much more — scuttled the Mariners on a chilly afternoon at Camden Yards that included a rain delay of more than two hours.
The result: The Mariners, in a season that beckoned with promise, reached the one-quarter mark at 18-22 and eight games behind first-place Houston in the American League West Division.
Increasingly, questions are outpacing answers.
“I don’t think you can find a guy in here,” veteran utilityman Willie Bloomquist said, “who would say that we’re not better than our record is right now.
“Someone is going to have to come up with a big hit. I point the finger at myself today. I had an opportunity twice, and I didn’t get it done either time.”
Bloomquist entered the game in the fifth inning after Kyle Seager was ejected while walking away from umpire John Tumpane after a disagreement over a called third strike.
“That makes no sense,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “It’s very unfortunate that the game was probably decided on that.”
Maybe, but the Mariners also made those critical defensive mistakes and left 13 runners left on base while going 3 for 15 with runners in scoring position — a deadly combination.
Chris Davis started the winning rally with a leadoff single against Danny Farquhar (0-3) on a grounder off Taylor’s glove.
“I was there,” Taylor said. “My initial read was (to stay) back, to try to get the big hop, but I just ended up getting the in-between (hop). I probably should have come in and tried to catch it in the air from the get-go.”
Davis went to second on Steve Pearce’s soft grounder back to the mound. Any chance for a double play evaporated when Farquhar slightly slipped on the wet grass.
J.J. Hardy then grounded an RBI single into center.
“That was a hanging cutter down the middle,” said Farquhar, who bailed out Charlie Furbush from a two-on, one-out jam in the seventh inning. “I was trying to get it down and away.”
Davis just beat the throw home by Justin Ruggiano, but that turned into the winning run when Zach Britton breezed through the Mariners in the ninth inning for his ninth save. Tommy Hunter (2-1) got the victory.
Yep, this one was hard to take — on many levels.
The Mariners are eight games into a 27-games-in-28-days stretch and weren’t happy about starting a game during a short break in the rainstorms moving through the area.
The rain intensified before the Orioles came to bat in the third inning and resulted in a delay that lasted 2 hours, 5 minutes. Neither Happ nor Baltimore starter Chris Tillman returned once play resumed.
“I’m still trying to figure out why we started that game,” Happ said. “We’ve got 20 games in a row now. They know rain is coming. I guess it’s hindsight, but it’s tough. We had a two-hour delay.”
The start sure didn’t go well.
Happ paid a heavy price for being slow to turn a potential double play on Jimmy Paredes’ hopper back to the mound in the first inning after Manny Machado’s leadoff single.
Paredes beat the hurried throw to first by Taylor.
“I just kind of threw the ball to the bag,” Happ said. “(Taylor) was coming to the bag. I just took an extra second to make sure I saw someone (at the base).”
If the Mariners get the double play, the inning ends when Adam Jones flies out to left. Instead, the Orioles loaded the bases when Delmon Young punched a two-out single into center, and Davis walked.
Steve Pearce then lofted a first-pitch change-up that clawed its way into the left-field seats for a grand slam and a 4-0 lead.
But the Mariners rallied. They got one run back in the second inning on Welington Castillo’s sacrifice fly against Tillman and two more in the fourth on Rickie Weeks’ pinch-hit single against Brian Matusz.
They pulled even when Logan Morrison drew a bases-loaded walk in the seventh from Darren O’Day. But they left the bases loaded in the seventh when Ruggiano struck out and then in the eighth when Bloomquist grounded out.
“We did have opportunities,” McClendon said. “We just didn’t get the big hit to really put us over the hump.”