After a series of heartbreaking losses, Seattle had one that seemed impossible to lose. But as the Mariners have found out far too often lately, everything is possible. Even this.
The Royals won, 5-4, on Saturday night, with closer Brandon Morrow allowing a walk-off two-run homer to David DeJesus.
"It's just testament that we can't get away with a mistake right now," manager Jim Riggleman said, "whether it's a pitching mistake, a base-running mistake or a fielding mistake."
The Mariners have now lost six games in the past week by two runs or less. Add the day when the Mariners released Richie Sexson and sent Erik Bedard to the disabled list, and you can see that even for a team with the worst record in baseball this last week has been pretty bleak.
But really, could any of that compare to Saturday night?
Morrow retired John Buck and Ross Gload on seven pitches to start the inning. He said Thursday's meltdown, where he blew his first career save, was completely out of his mind, and it appeared that way until the next batter.
Billy Butler, pinch-hitting for Esteban German, walked on four pitches. DeJesus came up next. A night earlier, he unloaded a two-run double that ended up being the difference in the game.
Morrow said all he was thinking about was getting strike one after the walk to Butler. He threw a fastball down the middle. DeJesus hit the first pitch he saw over the right-field fence.
"First-pitch fastball," DeJesus said. "I was like, 'If it's middle-in, I was going to try to turn on it,' and he put it right there, so I was able to do it."
Before Thursday, Morrow had a perfect eight saves in eight chances and an ERA of 0.63. Now, he's blown two in a row and allowed three home runs in the process. Morrow insists he wants to go for a save again as soon as he can, but this one really hurt.
"It's all on you," Morrow said, "so it's tough when you give it up."
Seattle took a 4-3 lead when it put across four runs in the sixth inning. Raul Ibanez started the rally with a two-run home run, the team's first homer since Monday. When Jeremy Reed added a two-run double, the Mariners had a one-run lead. Starting pitcher Jarrod Washburn was in control after giving up three runs in the first two innings.
Everything was going according to plan. Riggleman said his team wanted games like this on Friday night.
"Give me three runs," he said, "and we'll find a way to score four."
They found one on Saturday, and that was the worst part. Seattle did almost everything right. Washburn recorded a quality start. The offense had a big inning. All that was missing was the final out.
A loss like Saturday's wasn't a brand new story. It was just another chapter in this week's horror novel.
In addition to Morrow's blown save on Thursday, the Mariners dropped a game at Detroit in extra innings, one where Felix Hernandez triumphantly returned, and another where Carlos Silva gave his best outing of the season. Every game was close enough for Seattle to win, if not for small mistakes or one piece of the puzzle missing.
The Mariners are having enough trouble as it is winning baseball games this season. When they lose like they did on Saturday and all this week, a team that already has the most losses in baseball could start sensing defeat coming along, even in the most winnable of games.
"You'd like to deny that," Riggleman said, "but it's always going to be there."
Mark Dent is an associate reporter for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less