Mariners run out of options against Royals, Greinke

    SEATTLE – If 2010 has proved anything to the Seattle Mariners, it’s that they have to take advantage of every opportunity.

    And when they are facing someone like Kansas City ace Zack Greinke, that’s doubly true.

    Greinke has been almost invulnerable against Seattle in recent years and came into Tuesday’s start in Safeco Field having thrown 29 consecutive scoreless innings against the Mariners.

    So when Seattle scratched out an unearned run in the third inning, it was time to try and push the limits against the 2009 Cy Young Award winner. The Mariners weren’t able to do that, but they did push him out of the game after seven innings, meaning the club had a chance to try and beat up on some of the Kansas City relievers.

    First, however, Seattle’s own relievers had to come through, and that didn’t happen in what would turn out to be a 3-2 loss to the Royals.

    Resurgent Seattle starter Ryan Rowland-Smith pitched seven strong innings, allowing just two runs, and after he gave up a leadoff single in the eighth, he was replaced by Sean White. White, however, gave up hits to three of the first four batters he faced, enabling the Royals to stretch the lead to 3-2, so that opportunity to keep the game close slipped away.

    Then in the bottom of the eighth, the Mariners had a chance to break through against reliever Blake Wood, who gave up consecutive one-out hits to Jack Wilson and Ichiro Suzuki. With Chone Figgins at the plate, Wilson got the green light to steal third, and he did. But Ichiro didn’t feel he got a good enough jump off first base, so he didn’t run.

    That would turn out to be a backbreaker of a decision.

    Wilson scored on Figgins’ sacrifice fly and Ichiro would have been able to score on a subsequent double by Russell Branyan had the runner been on second. Instead, he was on first, and when a fan down the right field line interfered with the ball, Branyan was credited with a ground-rule double and Ichiro was held at third.

    “I’m the one man on the field who can’t see the play (which was behind him),’’ Ichiro said, “so I can’t say if I would have scored.’’

    Manager Don Wakamatsu went out to argue that Ichiro was past second base when the interference occurred so that Ichiro’s two-base advance under the ground-rule double rules should allow him to score. That didn’t fly with the umpires, and Jose Lopez grounded out with runners on second and third, and the Mariners weren’t able to mount a threat in the ninth as they lost for the fifth time in six July starts.

    “Ichiro must not have thought he could make it,’’ the manager said.

    It was a tough loss to take because the Mariners not only scored a run against Kansas City starter Zack Greinke – after 31 innings of not scoring against him – but they got Greinke out of the game after seven innings.

    Rowland-Smith made things tough for K.C. hitters with his second consecutive quality start, but the bullpen and the offense have been consistent troubles for Seattle this season, and were again Tuesday.

    “It felt good to pitch into the eighth inning again,’’ Rowland-Smith said. “I’m getting back to doing what I did last year.’’

    Now if only the rest of the Mariners could make the same claim.


John Hickey is a National Baseball Writer for AOL FanHouse ( Follow him on Twitter: @JHickey3. Archived photo courtesy Googie Man via Wikimedia Commons.


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