If the goal Sunday for the Seattle Mariners was to put a bow on a disappointing first half … mission accomplished.
The 10-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels saw Taijuan Walker revert to his April struggles, the Mariners’ attack pile up another stack of zeros until it was too late to matter and their defense put on a vaudeville audition.
The weather was nice.
Not much else.
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“In a lot of ways,” Mariners manager Lloyd McClendon said, “it was very embarrassing. We just made too many unforced errors. We’re a better club than that.”
It’d be hard not to be.
An error by second baseman Robinson Cano keyed the Angels’ two-run second inning. An errant throw by left fielder Mark Trumbo gifted Los Angeles with another run in the third.
Still, it was only 3-0 until Walker (7-7) fueled a six-run sixth inning by throwing wildly on a bunt. The gap was six runs when Walker exited without retiring a batter n the inning.
“It was just one of those days,” he said. “I felt like I had really good stuff. Everything was working pretty well, and I just had that throwing error in the sixth, and it kind of went downhill from there.”
The Angels then feasted on rookie lefty David Rollins for two more runs.
Walker’s final line showed seven runs, six earned, in five-plus innings. He had a streak of seven consecutive quality starts (at least six innings, no more than three earned runs) before yielding five runs in six innings last time out in a no-decision against Detroit.
The Mariners, meanwhile, mustered little against Angels rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney beyond some loud outs — but this was his fourth consecutive strong start since his June 24 promotion from Triple-A Salt Lake.
“That’s pretty much what we’ve been seeing from Andrew,” Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. “He showed really good life on the fastball with command. I thought his slider was sharp to the left-handed hitters.”
Heaney (3-0) gave up five hits in seven shutout innings while striking out six and walking one. His ERA dropped to 1.32 at four earned runs in 271/3 innings.
The Mariners trailed 10-0 when they avoided a 10th shutout loss by scoring twice in the eighth inning against Trevor Gott. So there was that. Seth Smith added a pinch-hit homer in the ninth against Matt Shoemaker.
It all means the Mariners hit the break at 41-48 and trail the first-place Angels by 71/2 games in the American League West. (Yes, first-place Angels; they climbed one-half game ahead of Houston, which has lost six in a row.)
“We haven’t really gotten on a streak,” Seattle third baseman Kyle Seager said. “We’ll win a game, lose a game. It’s hard to make up ground that way.”
One continuing problem: The Mariners are 2-12 in the final game of their past 14 series. Had they split those 14 games, they would be 46-43 and well-positioned for a postbreak push.
“We’ve got to get better,” McClendon said, “and we have to start stringing together wins. That’s the message that I’m going to send to my club starting the second half.
“Listen, I’ve given my club a lot of string and allowed them to do a lot of things. But it’s not working, and we’ve got to change things.”
The Angels’ two-run second inning set the tone.
Erick Aybar led off with a single to center, and David Freese followed with a double that hopped the left-field wall.
C.J. Cron struck out, and the Mariners, with their infield in, got what they wanted when Matt Joyce hit a sharp grounder to Cano — until the ball skipped through Cano for a run-scoring error.
“I thought it was going to bounce,” Cano said. “It stayed down. It’s a situation where you want to make a play.”
A wild pitch by Walker on a 1-2 offering to Chris Iannetta permitted Freese to score for a 2-0 lead.
The Angels extended their lead to 3-0 in the third on Mike Trout’s one-out infield single after Seager cut in front of shortstop Brad Miller, who bobbled the ball.
“Kyle thought he got in my way,” Miller said, “but I saw it. I never hesitated. I was just going through it and trying to be quick because it was Trout running.”
Trout initially stopped at third when Aybar floated a line-hugging double to left with two outs. But Trumbo’s throw got past Seager for a run-scoring error.
“It was a two-seam (throw),” Trumbo said. “It was terrible. Absolutely terrible.”
When Walker, backing up the play, threw wildly to the plate, Aybar tried to come all the way around to score. But Cano retrieved the ball and threw out Aybar at the plate.
The Angels’ outburst in the sixth turned the game into a rout. Walker started the inning by hitting Trout and yielding a single to Albert Pujols. Walker then pounced on Aybar’s sacrifice bunt, tried for an out at third — and threw wildly.
Trout scored, and the error put runners at second and third with no outs.
Freese ended Walker’s day by driving a two-run double off the top of the center-field wall for a 6-0 lead. All that remained at that point was a final accounting — and then the break: four days to reset.
“We just played the worst game of the year,” McClendon said. “I can’t imagine a better time for the break.”