SEATTLE — Let’s start with the numbers because those are telling enough.
In the Seattle Mariners’ three losses during their freshly completed five-game home stand, they scored just one run. In two of them, they were held to three hits or less and shut out. In the other loss, they scored just one run.
The Mariners’ hot offensive start this season gave way this homestand to the marine layer or good pitching or poor hitting. Or, most likely, a combination of all the above.
That included Seattle’s 3-0 loss Sunday to the Oakland A’s in front of 22,628 fans.
Is it time for manager Lloyd McClendon to be concerned about his offense?
“I was today,” he said. “When I wake up tomorrow I’ll be just fine. Listen, you get two or three hits and nobody looks good and everybody is talking about the offense. A couple days ago we were just fine.”
The Mariners (6-5) struck out 11 times for the second straight game. They didn’t walk, advanced only one runner to second base and didn’t hit the ball hard very often.
To be fair, A’s starter Scott Kazmir (2-0, 1.40 ERA) has rolled this season, and he looked especially dominant against the Mariners. He recorded nine strikeouts in six innings before leaving the game because of a forearm issue.
“He was locating everything right where he wanted,” said Robinson Cano, who had two of Seattle’s three hits.
Even without Kazmir in the game, the Mariners managed only one hit—a Robinson Cano single with two outs in the ninth inning. The Mariners haven’t won a game in which they failed to hit a home run.
The shame of it is it wasted a quality start from Chris Young. Making his first start since September 2012, Young pitched six scoreless innings. He gave up four hits and three walks, but he always worked his way out of jams.
He gave the Mariners more than they could have expected going in and matched Kazmir step for step.
“I was really, really pleased with his outing,” McClendon said. “He fatigued a little bit at the end, but he was great for us.”
Later, McClendon said of the 34-year-old Young, “I think this guy is real close. I saw his breaking ball start to come a little bit today, and I think when that pitch comes for him, he’s really going to be tough.”
Young’s start is even more impressive considering he nearly retired last summer because of severe pain in his shoulder. He had battled injuries throughout his career and didn’t pitch at all in 2013.
“I couldn’t sleep at night,” Young said. “Couldn’t play catch at the field, much less pitch, and I thought, ‘This isn’t fun. I’m tired of being in pain.’ And I was ready to walk away.”
But Young underwent a right shoulder thoracic outlet decompression procedure, which is a surgery to repair a nerve issue causing pressure on the shoulder. He said he hasn’t felt this pain free in five or six years.
“I can sleep on my right side again,” Young said, “and that’s the big indicator for me.”
Young turned over a scoreless game to the bullpen, but Charlie Furbush and Lucas Luetge couldn’t keep it that way.
Furbush walked the first batter he faced in in the eighth inning. Yoenis Cespedes made him pay by hitting a two-run homer that gave the A’s a 2-0 lead. Luetge then gave up a two-out solo home run to Josh Donaldson in the ninth.
With the way the Mariners hit that proved more than enough.
“I know our guys are a little disappointed,” McClendon said, “but I’ve said this all along: Winning game at this level is tough. Kazmir’s been on fire, and he chewed us up pretty good today. But we’ll bounce back. We’ll be fine.”