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07/23/08 10:25 PM ET
Mariners fall short in extras
Bloomquist's error opens door in latest frustrating defeat
By Jim Street / MLB.com
SEATTLE -- It wasn't his fault that the Mariners' series finale against the Red Sox on Wednesday afternoon went into the 12th inning. But Willie Bloomquist blamed himself for the eventual outcome. He came to bat five times in the four-hour game, but never with a runner in scoring position, something several of his teammates did on the cloudy afternoon. He played the first nine innings of the game error-free at shortstop, moving to center field in the top of the 10th. There probably never should have been a 12th inning. But there was, and the Mariners ended up with a 6-3 loss in front of 43,231 at Safeco Field, the decisive rally coming after the usually sure-handed Bloomquist dropped a fly ball in right-center with one out and two runners on. Mike Lowell followed the miscue with a two-run single to left field off right-hander Sean Green, and designated hitter Sean Casey greeted lefty reliever Cesar Jimenez with a run-scoring single to right field. The Mariners loaded the bases in the bottom of the 12th, but DH Jose Vidro grounded out. Seattle (38-63) lost its fifth straight and was swept in a series for the sixth time this season. It was a game that epitomized the Mariners' season. Close but not quite. "I just flat out missed it," Bloomquist said. "I can't sit here and make an excuse. It's a ball I should have caught. I hold myself accountable. I should have caught it and unfortunately I didn't, and it cost us. No excuses. I should have had it and I'm disappointed that I didn't make the play." But as costly as Bloomquist's misplay in right-center field was -- he dropped Kevin Youkilis' towering fly ball -- the bottom of the 11th inning was more indicative of why the Mariners are 23 games behind the first-place Angels in the AL West. Seattle had runners on first and third with one out against Red Sox closer Jonathan Papelbon. After missing by several feet of a game-ending hit to left field, catcher Kenji Johjima eventually grounded into a 5-4-3 double play. He was the sixth Mariner to bat with a runner in scoring position, and the sixth to make an out. "Whenever I make an out, I'm always frustrated," he said through an interpreter. "In that particular scenario, I tried to hit the ball deep to the outfielder and try to get a sacrifice fly. The fact that I was not able to do my job makes me frustrated, but I'm always frustrated when I make an out." The frustration built a little more in the top of the 12th, and again in the bottom of the 12th, when Vidro, who had slugged a game-tying, two-run home run in the sixth inning, made the final out of the game, leaving two more runners in scoring position. Not much new about that. Seattle ranks last in the American League in that category, going 187-for-809, a .231 clip, so far this season. The club record is .229 (284-for-1,242) in 1983 -- a team that went 60-102. Adding to team-wide agony is the fact so many recent games have been close. Asked if his frustration level could get any higher, interim manager Jim Riggleman said, "I hate to use that word, to tell you the truth. I don't know what the right word is, but that was a painful loss right there and we've had a lot of those in the past two weeks. "We played this Boston club real tough for three games and come away with nothing. I'm not sure what the right word is, but I know our players are aching over it. There's nothing to do but go out there and battle 'em tough for the 60-some games we have left. These close losses, and extra-inning losses and so forth [are tough to take], but we have to take it as an indication that we are a pretty good ballclub that is just not finishing the job. It's not the club that the record indicates." They are 2-5 in extra-inning games, 11-19 in one-run games, and 8-13 in games decided by two runs. "You keep going," veteran outfielder Raul Ibanez said. "Regardless of what's going around you, you keep going. You keep battling, no matter how many times you get knocked down. You get back up and you do it again tomorrow. If you don't have that mind-set, you're in trouble, not just in this game, but in life. "No matter how many times you get punched right between the eyes, you get back and keep coming after them. Every day, you come out as tenacious as ever and get it done somehow. Just get it done, that's the name of the game." Now a season-high 25 games below .500, the Mariners must feel like they are getting hit between the eyes almost daily. "It's tough," Ibanez said. "But you keep battling and keep fighting. Scratch and claw all the way to the finish line, no matter what happens. Whether 22 games up or 22 games down, you go out there with same tenacity every single day, no matter what's going on around you."
Jim Street is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.