Batista, Seattle struggle in loss to SD
Right-hander allows four early runs, bats unable to catch up
SEATTLE -- Miguel Batista is a starter who's having trouble at the beginning.The Mariners right-hander continued his first-inning issues Friday night. He spotted San Diego an early four-run lead -- three of them coming in the first inning -- that proved too much for the Mariners to overcome in a 6-4 loss. The Mariners battled back to within one run twice, but the Padres kept inching away. Kenji Johjima had the big hit for the Mariners, a two-run home run in the second inning. Johjima, carrying just a .236 average overall, is hitting .333 at Safeco Field through 18 games.
Batista now has allowed 11 runs on 12 hits with nine walks and 171 pitches in his six starts at Safeco. It's his third straight start that he has allowed at least two runs in the first inning."We're in a little bit of a rut right now," pitching coach Mel Stottlemyre said. "I don't know if they're trying to overthrow at the start of the game, making some bad pitches." If Batista (3-5) knows, he wasn't saying. For the second straight start, he made himself unavailable after the game. He left before the media entered the clubhouse. It was a demoralizing start for a team with the worst record (16-27) in the American League. The Mariners were coming off an emotional 12-inning win in Texas on Wednesday and used Thursday's off-day to recharge. "It's a little disappointing. We're coming home ..." said manager John McLaren, who couldn't finish his thought. "It took him a while to get his rhythm going, his location was not very good the first couple innings at all. [Chris] Young was struggling, too, but he got his rhythm going." Batista threw batting practice early. Jody Gerut hit his second pitch for a triple into the right-field corner. Tadahito Iguchi hit the next pitch for an RBI single. Brian Giles followed with a run-scoring double, as Iguchi was running on the pitch. Khalil Greene finished it with a sacrifice fly. "It's tough when you think about going to the bullpen in the second inning," McLaren said. "It upsets the series, knowing you have to make up that many innings." Iguchi had a two-out home run in the second. Just 11 batters into the game, the Padres already had achieved a team cycle and a 4-0 lead. "It's kind of tough having to play catch-up baseball," Stottlemyre said. "We had a pretty good offense going, but it seems every time we get a run, we give up a run. Those things hurt." The Mariners scored three two-out runs in the second. Raul Ibanez singled and stole his first base of the season. Johjima then hit his shot just over the left-field scoreboard. Wladimir Balentien doubled, then Yuniesky Betancourt doubled him home. The Mariners would load the bases, but Young (4-3) worked out of it by striking out Adrian Beltre. Josh Bard made it 5-3 with a run-scoring double in the third inning. Six of the Padres' first eight hits went for extra bases. Jeff Clement closed it to 5-4 with an RBI groundout in the third. Giles' infield single in the sixth scored Scott Hairston from third to push it to 6-4. Batista did manage 5 1/3 innings, allowing six runs and nine hits. His home ERA is now 9.90. Stottlemyre said he was surprised that Batista started so poorly. He said he had a good pregame warmup and even threw about 10 more pitches than he usually does. With the Mariners struggling, could he be carrying too much of a burden on his shoulders as he enters the game? "I think everyone wants to do that, start strong and do well, hold them down as long as you can," Stottlemyre said. "I don't know he reason behind it.
"We'll talk about it and keep working on it. We'll try to refine his pitches a little bit on his throw day. We've done a couple different things. I've tried to get him to trust his stuff a little more. Sometimes he's throwing better than what he thinks, but he tries to be too fine and it cost him pitches."Batista threw 29 pitches in the first inning and 105 over his 5 1/3 innings. "We have to do a better job at that," Stottlemyre added. Ichiro Suzuki stole his 17th base with two outs in the fourth. That moved him within one steal of Julio Cruz's club record of 288. With it, he extended his lead for the most stolen bases in Interleague Play with 47. His seventh-inning single also ended a 0-for-16 slide.
Bob Sherwin is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.