ARLINGTON, Texas “The Godfather II” aside, most sequels are disappointments — a truth that Mariners lefty Vidal Nuno greatly reinforced in a 10-1 clubbing by the Texas Rangers on Saturday night.
It was just 10 days earlier that Nuno held the Rangers to one hit over seven innings in a 6-0 victory at Safeco Field.
Texas got three hits Saturday in the first inning at Globe Life Park. Nuno was gone before the end of the fourth. And the pulse on the Mariners’ already dim postseason hopes faded a bit more.
“Unfortunately, they found holes,” Nuno said. “I was trying to hit the outside corners. When you don’t get those calls, it’s going to be a long day on the mound.”
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It was that and more. Not just for Nuno, either. The Mariners’ bullpen, which entered the game with a streak of 21 1/3 straight scoreless innings, spit the bit for five runs in 4 2/3 innings.
“We’ve got some young kids,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said. “They’re trying to find their way. They’re inexperienced and, at times, they’re overmatched. It is what it is. We’ll deal with it, and we’ll make them better.”
Nuno (1-3) gave up five runs in 3 1/3 innings. One run was unearned but fully deserved since it was his throwing error. The Rangers then piled on against the underbelly of the Mariners’ bullpen.
“We were patient early,” Texas manager Jeff Banister said. “We didn’t fire on pitches out of the strike zone on a guy that we struggled with the last time we saw him. We forced him back in the strike zone with fastballs.”
It wasn’t pretty. The Mariners pulled second baseman Robinson Cano and left fielder Franklin Gutierrez from the lineup as they took the field for the Texas sixth.
Gutierrez provided the only run against Texas starter Cole Hamels with a leadoff homer in the second inning that, briefly, tied the game. The Rangers then scored two in their second, two more in the fourth and three in the fifth.
The loss dropped the Mariners to 72-77 with 13 games remaining. They fell six games behind Houston for the American League’s final wild-card spot.
Hamels improved to 4-1 since arriving in a July 31 trade from Philadelphia. He limited the Mariners to one run and struck out 12 in seven innings.
“He was throwing good,” Gutierrez said. “He was mixing all of his pitches, and all of his pitches were working. He threw me a 3-2 changeup, and I hit it good. But he was kind of tough tonight.”
Sam Dyson and Chi Chi Gonzalez closed out Hamels’ victory.
The Rangers broke on top 1-0 in the first by nicking Nuno for three singles. The run scored on Mike Napoli’s two-out grounder past shortstop Ketel Marte.
The Mariners pulled even when Gutierrez led off the second inning with a 408-foot homer to straightaway center. It was his 14th homer of the year in just 140 at-bats.
But Nuno quickly created a mess in the Texas second.
After walking Elvis Andrus, Nuno grabbed Rougned Odor’s bunt but made an off-line flip to first. The ball got past Jesus Montero, who went down after colliding with Odor.
The runners wound up on second and third. Both eventually scored; Andrus on Chris Gimenez’s grounder to first, and Odor on Delino DeShields’ sacrifice fly to center.
Texas led 3-1.
The Mariners had a chance to answer in the third after getting two-out singles from Kyle Seager and Nelson Cruz, but Cano grounded out to second.
Nuno exited with one out in the fourth after Texas loaded the bases by sandwiching two walks around a bunt single.
JC Ramirez replaced Nuno and things quickly got worse — Ramirez surrendered a two-run double to Adrian Beltre that pushed the Rangers’ lead to 5-1.
The game really got away when the Mariners tried Jose Ramirez in the fifth: double, fly to left, double, triple, walk, single. Three more runs. David Rollins replaced Ramirez and got an inning-ending double play.
The Mariners tried to close the game with Mayckol Guaipe in the eighth, but he couldn’t make it through the inning. The Rangers scored twice and had the bases loaded before Logan Kensing got the final out.
Another lousy sequel.
SUNDAY: Seattle (RHP Felix Hernandez, 17-9, 3.55 ERA) at Texas (LHP Derek Holland, 3-2, 3.77), 12:05 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM