Maybe manager Scott Servais saw this coming Sunday, another downturn in the Mariners’ inconsistent attack that resulted in a 4-1 loss to the Chicago White Sox and a lost weekend at U.S. Cellular Field.
Before the game, Servais outlined what he saw as the Mariners’ biggest need as they head into the season’s final five weeks in search of their first postseason appearance since 2001.
“I was thinking about things coming to the park this morning,” he said. “We’d talked about getting consistent starting pitching. Our pitching has been pretty good.
“To kind of carry us, especially here on the road today and going into Texas, I’d like to see our bats wake up and start putting a consistent five, six, seven runs up there on the board, and then see where we’re at.”
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Instead … just one run.
“We had a couple of chances there with runners in scoring position,” Servais said. “We didn’t really come through. We just didn’t get much going offensively. You’ve got to get hits with runners in scoring position.”
The Mariners were 0 for 7 with runners in scoring position as they wasted a strong start from Taijuan Walker in losing for the fifth time in six games.
Walker (4-9) permitted just two hits through the first seven innings before weakening in the eighth. But one hit was a well-placed grounder by Justin Morneau that produced two runs in the fourth inning.
Melky Cabrera’s RBI triple finished Walker in a two-run eighth that effectively ended the game. Even so, this was a new-look Walker, who hit three batters by pitching with an aggressive, buzz-them-inside attitude.
“When you throw in,” he said, “it’s going to happen. You have to make them uncomfortable. Obviously, I’m not trying to hit a batter, but I’m trying to get them off the plate.”
His body language suggested this was an angry Walker, and he didn’t deny it: “I was just trying to be aggressive and go out there and shove it down their throat.”
Had the Mariners backed Walker with a few runs, it might have been different. As it was…well, so it goes.
The Mariners also dropped a game farther back in the American League wild-card hunt. They trail Baltimore by three games for the final postseason berth with 32 games remaining.
The problem was a familiar one; the Mariners struggled against left-handed starters. They saw three this weekend in Chicago, where they lost three times in four games.