Olson's night brief as offense sputters

Olson's night brief as offense sputters

ARLINGTON -- With so few good things to say about the first eight innings of Thursday night's series opener against the Rangers, Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu talked mostly about the ninth inning.

"It really wasn't much of a game, until the end," Wakamatsu said.

One day after getting 11 hits off Blue Jays right-hander Roy Halladay, an 11-game winner and former Cy Young Award winner, the Mariners were stymied on one hit -- and one baserunner -- over the first eight innings by Rangers rookie left-hander Derek Holland.

The Mariners were one out away from absorbing the 14th one-hitter in franchise history when back-to-back singles, along with a leadoff walk, produced their only run in a 7-1 loss to the Rangers before 23,949 at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

"At least we came back and were able to knock [Holland] out and not let him finish the game," Wakamatsu said. "But it was an awfully lopsided game, and it goes along with the starting pitching and how you set the tone."

The tone left-hander Garrett Olson set was not what the Mariners had in mind.

He worked a quick and spiffy first inning, retired the first batter in the second, and then yielded a home run to left-handed-hitting Hank Blalock. A walk and two-out, fence-clearing blast to center field by Jarrod Saltalamacchia, put the Rangers ahead by three runs.

Texas finished with five home runs -- three off Olson, who lasted just 3 2/3 innings, and two off right-handed reliever Chris Jakubauskas -- to beat the Mariners for the fourth time in four games in Arlington this season.

Olson also surrendered a home run to Michael Young in the third inning, the second time this season the lefty has allowed three homers in one game.

"I just left some pitches over the plate and they hit 'em," Olson (3-5, 5.61 ERA) said. "I wasn't aggressive down in the zone like I was in the first inning. In hindsight, I should have missed the plate in certain counts. They were aggressive."

The Mariners believe Olson has the stuff to be successful, but he's still trying to fine-tune the art of adjusting from inning-to-inning, pitch-to-pitch.

"We have talked about it," Wakamatsu said. "He goes out there to compete, but he gets a little tentative and hitters feed off that. It's not an easy thing, but you have to do that at this level to be successful and he hasn't figured that out."

It might be awhile before he gets another chance to show his stuff as a starter.

"We will talk about it tonight and look how to fill that role," Wakamatsu said when asked if Olson, who has made 11 starts, would remain in the rotation.

The manager said there are no plans to flip-flop Olson and Jakubauskas, who pitched the final 4 1/3 innings. Both pitchers have performed better in relief.

With Jakubauskas finishing off the game, the remainder of the bullpen is fresh for the remaining three games of this series.

The opener was one-sided from the get-go.

Holland retired the first 14 batters he faced without a difficult defensive play having to be made behind him. Finally, with two outs in the fifth, Mariners third baseman Jack Hannahan drilled a first-pitch single up the middle.

Holland regrouped and retired the next 10 batters before walking Rob Johnson in the ninth. After Ichiro Suzuki forced Johnson at second, Franklin Gutierrez singled and Rangers manager Ron Washington changed pitchers.

Jose Lopez greeted reliever Warner Madrigal with a run-scoring single.

Mike Sweeney walked, loading the bases, but Chris Shelton field out to right for the final out.

"When you have a fastball like his and second pitches like that, it's hard to sit on pitches," Washington said of Holland, who entered the game with a 3-6 record and 6.13 ERA. "I think we got a real good look at Derek Holland."

There was no argument from Wakamatsu.

"You can look at young pitchers' ERA but also can look at their stuff, and this kid is talked about all through baseball as one of the top young left-handed starters in the game," Wakamatsu said. "He obviously has the physical ability. The rest is how he commands the ball, and he commanded his pitches well tonight. He was focused and came right at us."

The loss ended the two-game winning streak the Mariners brought with them from Seattle.

The Mariners have now been out-homered 18-1 during the past seven games. It was the first time since June 22, 2007, against the Reds at Safeco Field that the Mariners surrendered as many as five home runs in a game.

Next up for the Mariners is the non-waiver Trade Deadline at 1 p.m. PT on Friday.

The players insist that it hasn't been a distraction, but Wakamatsu will welcome the passing of the deadline.

"It will give us some stability," Wakamatsu said. "I think we have done a good job with all this [trade talk] going on. The guys are going out and competing. I felt even today we went out and competed, but it will be nice to know where we are at [roster-wise]."

Left-handed starter Jarrod Washburn remains a hot topic on the trade market with various reports linking him to the Yankees, Dodgers and Brewers.

"I have no idea what's going to happen," Washburn said as he left the visiting clubhouse.

Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.