The Seattle Mariners are hoping a seven-game homestand will help them make up ground in the AL wild card race. The first game, however, didn’t yield the result they so desperately needed.
The fading Mariners look to rebound from a season-high fourth straight home loss as they continue a three-game set against the Oakland Athletics on Tuesday night.
Looking to reverse their fortunes after dropping eight of 10 on the road and 13 of 15 overall, the Mariners opened their homestand with a 9-3 loss on Monday.
Horacio Ramirez gave up Kurt Suzuki’s first career grand slam and lasted only 1 2-3 innings. Although rookie Ryan Feierabend pitched 5 1-3 scoreless innings, Seattle was held scoreless until Kenji Johjima and Jose Lopez delivered RBI groundouts in the seventh.
Dan Johnson sealed the win for Oakland with another grand slam in the ninth inning. It was the second time in their 106-year history that the Athletics (70-75) have hit two grand slams in one game. The other was Aug. 24, 2003 against Toronto.
“We love home runs,” A’s manager Bob Geren said. “Two of them for eight runs? You can’t do much better than that.”
Jose Guillen homered for the Mariners (75-67), who dropped 5 1/2 games behind the wild card-leading New York Yankees and 8 1/2 in back of the Los Angeles Angels in the AL West with 20 games remaining.
On Aug. 26, Seattle was leading the wild card race by two games and was just one game behind the Angels.
“As long as there is a possibility, you always work for the playoffs,” the Mariners’ Ichiro Suzuki said through an interpreter.
Having 13 of their final 20 games at Safeco Field doesn’t appear to be much of a luxury for Seattle, which has been outscored 33-11 during its four-game skid there.
Mariners manager John McLaren was asked what’s left for his team to do.
“Pitch a little better. Maybe hit a little better,” he said. “It’s easy to get down, but the guys care. To a man, they’re not happy right now.”
One reason why Seattle will have difficulty reaching the playoffs is the ineffectiveness lately of Jarrod Washburn (9-13, 4.32 ERA). The left-hander has lost three straight and six of his last seven starts, and is 1-7 with a 5.32 ERA in 11 outings since the All-Star break.
Although he was saddled with the loss, Washburn didn’t pitch poorly Wednesday in a 10-2 loss at Yankee Stadium. He gave up three runs - two earned - and three hits in six-plus innings, but two of those hits were home runs.
Washburn, who hasn’t won at home since June 29, is 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA in three starts this season against the Athletics. He threw a three-hitter in a 2-0 victory at Oakland on April 25.
Washburn is 8-12 with a 3.91 ERA in 30 starts against the A’s.
Struggling Dallas Braden (1-7, 6.63) seeks his first win since April 24 for Oakland. The rookie left-hander won his major league debut on April 24, but is winless in 10 starts since. He has been sent to the minors on four separate occasions and pitched one scoreless inning in relief Friday at Texas.
Braden has allowed five runs or more in five of his 11 starts. He has surrendered 14 runs and 16 hits over 6 1-3 innings in his two most recent starts - both against Detroit.
One of Braden’s worst outings of the season came in a 7-1 loss at Seattle on July 27, when he was tagged for seven runs and seven hits in four innings.