DETROIT — Well, hello third place.
The Mariners’ ongoing skid deepened Wednesday in a 5-1 loss to the Detroit Tigers that simultaneously dropped them into third place, behind Houston, in the American League West Division.
Detroit right fielder Steven Moya hit two homers against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma, who lasted just 4 2/3 innings. Moya entered the game with only one career homer in 79 career at-bats over parts of three seasons.
It’s been a dizzying June swoon for the Mariners.
They began play on June 3 tied with Texas atop the division. Less than three weeks later, the Mariners find themselves trailing the Rangers by 10 1/2 games — and the Astros by one-half game.
"I don’t want to say frustration," second baseman Robinson Cano said, "because to say frustration is like you’re blaming it on something. I always say that if you win as a team, you lose as a team.
"We’re losing, but I don’t want to say frustration."
The Mariners also fell back to .500 at 36-36. They were 10 games over .500, at 28-18, after a 13-3 victory over Oakland on May 25. They need a victory Thursday to avoid a four-game sweep at Comerica Park.
"There’s a lot of ball left to play," manager Scott Servais said. "We’re all disappointed in how this road trip has gone (at 2-7 with Thursday’s finale against the Tigers still to play).
"I say all of that, but there is — there are plenty of teams that have been in this spot before, at .500, and then get it going and end up having a really nice season. We’ve certainly seen it. We’re capable of it.
"We’ve got to go out and do it."
While the Mariners lost their four previous games after building early leads — multi-run leads in three of the four — this one was all Detroit from the beginning. The Mariners finished with just three hits.
Miguel Cabrera’s two-out homer in the first inning opened the scoring. He timed and squared up a 71-mph Iwakuma curve for a 407-foot drive to left for a 1-0 lead.
Iwakuma found two-out trouble in the second inning when Jose Iglesias lined a two-run doubled over Nori Aoki’s head in left field after singles by Moya and Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Detroit led 3-0.
"When I started off," Iwakuma said, "I left that pitch up in the zone to Cabrera. It was a curveball, and he got to it. He didn’t miss that pitch. And the fastball that I wanted away came in on Iglesias for a double.
"Those were the two mistakes early on, and they kind of took advantage from there."
Moya’s first homer came when leading off the fourth. The Tigers had a chance to blow open the game after loading the bases later in the inning, but Iwakuma struck out Victor Martinez for the third time.
For all that, Detroit starter Michael Fulmer couldn’t complete the necessary five innings for the victory even though he had retired 10 in a row before walking Adam Lind to start the fifth.
After Steve Clevenger served a one-out single into center, Fulmer hit successive batters, Aoki and Leonys Martin.
That quickly, Fulmer was gone.
Kyle Ryan (2-2) took over with one out and the bases still loaded. The Mariners countered by using Franklin Gutierrez as a pinch-hitter for Seth Smith.
The Mariners settled for one run. Gutierrez struck out, and Robinson Cano grounded out to first. They never threatened again — and the Tigers got that one run back on Moya’s second homer later in the inning.
"I thought we had a shot there with the bases loaded," Servais said. "We were starting to get back into the game. We needed a couple of big hits. It didn’t happen."
PLAY OF THE GAME: Omar Vizquel still has Gold Glove-quality hands. Vizquel now serves as Detroit’s first-base coach, and he made a slick barehanded grab on Jarrod Saltalamacchia’s sharp hopper in the fifth inning.
Vizquel won the first of his 11 Gold Gloves while playing shortstop for the Mariners in 1993 before a trade sent him to Cleveland. He concluded his 24-year career in 2012.
PLUS: Not much beyond reliever Mike Montgomery, who pitched 3 1/3 scoreless innings after replacing Hisashi Iwakuma with two outs in the fifth inning.
MINUS: The Mariners had just one hit over the final eight innings — a single in the fifth inning by Steve Clevenger, which led to their only run…Hisashi Iwakuma gave up 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings…Robinson Cano was hitless in four at-bats, which dropped his average to .297.
STAT PACK: The Mariners’ loss means Texas leads the American League West by 10 games over second-place Houston. Since divisional play started in 1969, 17 teams have built leads of 10 games or more prior to July 1. All 17 went on to win the division. The biggest pre-July 1 lead in those 48 years: the 2001 Mariners led by 20 games when play ended on June 30.
QUOTABLE: "Nobody said it was going to be easy," center fielder Leonys Martin said, "but we have to find a way to win ballgames no matter what."
SHORT HOPS: What should have been an error on shortstop Ketel Marte in the fifth inning was scored as a single for Jose Iglesias. That saved Marte from adding error No. 12 to his league-leading total among shortstops…the Mariners’ streak of hitting at least one homer ended at 14 games. It is second-longest streak of the season by an American League team. Boston had a 22-game run that ended May 24.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners