CINCINNATI — A game in which one team bangs out 13 hits, while the other strikes out 14 times and leaves 11 on base, obviously doesn’t hinge on one at-bat.
But it’s safe to say the beginning of the end for Jeremy Bonderman and the Mariners in their 13-4 thumping by the Reds on Saturday was Mat Latos’s two-out, two-run double in the fourth inning.
Yeah, the same Mat Latos who pitched six innings to earn the victory, striking out 11 — six in a row at one point. The same Mat Latos who in 232 previous plate appearances had just 28 hits for a .121 average.
“I gave up a double to a pitcher,” said a still-frustrated Bonderman. “For me, that’s unacceptable. I know he hits every day, but unacceptable. You’ve got to execute. I didn’t. That’s the bottom line.”
The Mariners had started promisingly with a two-run homer off Latos by torrid Kyle Seager in the first inning, matching the jump-start by Nick Franklin in a win the previous night. Franklin was limited to a pinch-hitting appearance because of a sore knee from a foul ball on Friday.
But Latos’s hit — right after the Mariners elected to intentionally walk .196-hitting catcher Ryan Hanigan to get to him — tied the score at 3.
“That’s not the way we had it drawn up there in that situation,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. “But it looked like a fastball up and over and he was ready to hit. He squared it up. That was a turning point early in the game.”
It was also a precursor to a damaging trend in the game: the Reds wound up scoring nine runs with two outs, including five off Bonderman. Shin-Soo Choo, hitting after Latos, singled him home and the Reds never trailed again.
“I feel I was throwing the ball well until I gave up that hit, and it kind of unraveled from there,” Bonderman said.
Bonderman’s heartwarming comeback story is becoming a bit frayed. He gave up seven hits and six runs in five innings with five walks (two intentional), and over his last two starts has allowed 13 hits and 12 runs over a combined 8 1/3innings.
“He just had trouble getting through innings,” Wedge said. “All those two-out RBIs early on killed us … I just felt like, again, the misses have to be more quality. You have to stay away from the middle of the plate. He had some tough luck too. Obviously it wasn’t just him. Guys in the bullpen struggled today, too.”
Reliever Carter Capps, pitching for the first time since June 25, gave up three runs in the sixth. Danny Farquhar gave up four more in the eighth, though two Seattle errors made two of them unearned.
Offensively, the 14 strikeouts was the Mariners’ season-high for a nine-inning game, with an asterisk. Just three games ago, they struck out 14 times through nine innings in an extra-inning victory over the Rangers. They also walked a season-high seven times in this one.
“We’ve tried to be aggressive on good pitches to hit,” Seager said. “If they are borderline or not where we want them, you take them, obviously. But I think if we are ready to hit and you are looking for a good pitch to hit, I think they go together.”
Seager’s homer off Latos had gotten the Mariners off to an auspicious start, and continued his torrid stretch immediately following a 3-for-31 slump. In the seven games since, Seager is 12 for 23 (.522) with three homers and seven runs batted in.
Rookie Brad Miller, leading off for the second game in a row, drew three walks, his first career multi-walk game. In two games atop the order, Miller has reached base five times in nine plate appearances. Mariners leadoff hitters rank 28th in the majors this season with a .281 on-base percentage.
“You are seeing an aggressive young man,” Wedge said of Miller. “But when they don’t come into him, he’s just going to lay his bat down and walk to first base. That’s what you like to see.”
But there wasn’t much else in this game from the Mariners that Wedge would like to see again.