ANAHEIM, Calif. – This one is going to leave a mark, or at least it should.
A blown six-run lead in the bottom of the ninth inning should hurt at any point of the season, but especially when you consider that teams leading by six or more runs heading into the ninth were 2,529-1 since 2011, according to ESPN Stats & Information. Cap off an extremely disappointing season-opening 1-6 road trip with that puppy (sorry puppies), and the Mariners’ stunner of a loss on Sunday should go well beyond the normal “it’s just one game, boys, we’ll get ’em tomorrow” pep talk.
By the looks of things in the quiet clubhouse after the 10-9 loss to the Angels, I don’t think that was the postgame message.
“That was rough,” manager Scott Servais said. “We did what we needed to do offensively. We needed to have a day like that, but when you have them down you have to put them away.”
“It’s hard,” said second baseman Robinson Cano, who broke out after a tough start to the season by driving in five runs on a home run and double. “For myself, until when we start the game tomorrow, that’s the thing that is going to be in my head.”
It has been a very frustrating start for the Mariners and those watching them. There have been allowances for “early.” There has been understanding that hitting is in fact hard. And while we have seen positive signs in all aspects of the Mariners’ game, the fact of the matter is that the team we all would agree should be improved coming off an 86-win season, heads into its home opener with only one win and returns from as ugly a loss as you can imagine.
It’s question-asking time. Not for us, but for them. Servais said after the game Sunday that his team is better than it has played, which is a statement that’s hard to disagree with. If this were the middle of the season, or even just the middle of May, it would be one thing. These streaks happen, but we are still waiting to see this team put together a complete game, let alone rattle off a string of consecutive wins.
This is failure to get going – something completely different.
“It’s everybody; it’s not just one guy,” Servais said. “We have got to coach better, we have got to manage better, everybody has got to pick up their game.”
The sting of the Sunday loss just adds to the surprise and disappointment of the Mariners’ start. One week in, it would appear to be self-check time and the questions should be simple: Where are you and what are you going to do?
It was an awful week, but take a deep breath and look at the standings. Four games back in the division on April 10 is hardly an insurmountable deficit. They need to get some things figured out quickly, but this is a good group of ballplayers and a good staff. A win Monday and they match their record through eight games in 2016.
Time will tell if they can pick up a few extra W’s on that 86-win team during the remaining 154 games, but for now it is one game at a time as they try to get on track.