Mariners lose again as fans boo following 4-1 loss to Orioles

The boos started for Jorge Polanco 24 hours earlier following more plate appearances ending in punchouts. They carried into his first plate appearance of Wednesday evening, also a strikeout, growing louder as his struggles continued to snowball.

And when Julio Rodriguez’s weak pop fly was caught in foul territory for the 27th out in a 4-1 loss to the Orioles, the boos, which were momentarily muffled by cheers from a large contingent of Baltimore fans, could still be heard raining down from various areas of T-Mobile Park. They weren’t just for the slumping second baseman or the scuffling center fielder — the boos were for all of them.

After enduring nine innings of mostly unwatchable baseball, most of the announced crowd of 37,998 had remained to see the postgame fireworks show. They let their feelings be known.

It’s not often a team leading its division gets booed at home. Well, at least not in Seattle. The Mariners have been defeated by wider margins and have somehow looked even worse at the plate. But the negative reaction was about more than one loss. It’s been building over two awful weeks of baseball where the Mariners have lost 10 of their last 13 games and saw their lead over the Astros in the AL West dwindle to two games.

“It’s really easy to get down on yourself,” manager Scott Servais said. “And I don’t want to see that to happen with our club. Guys are human, they feel it. They know they’re not performing up to their capabilities. They know how much they have invested in this group themselves.”

So what can they do?

“We just try to stay as positive as we can,” Servais said. “You’ve got to ride it out through the storm. The waters will calm. They will. We have a good team, but right now it doesn’t look like it on paper or certainly what we’re watching every night.”

But it’s how the Mariners are losing that has made the situation. The offense, which was below average even when the team was having success, is something worse than abysmal during this stretch.

The Mariners came into the game with a .194/.262/.335 slash line over their previous 13 games, having scored a meager 44 runs while striking out 29.5% of the time.

The trend continued as they struck out 13 times and mustered five hits. It was the eighth straight game where they struck out in double digits and the 55th time this season. It was the 30th time they’ve been held to two runs or fewer in a game.

“It’s the same old story of trying to get our offense going,” Servais said. “We’re just not able to put anything together offensively.”

Needing another strong start from Logan Gilbert to offset their minimal run production, the Mariners didn’t get it. Gilbert pitch 5 1/3 innings, allowing four runs on six hits with three walks and six strikeouts. It snapped a string of five consecutive quality starts for Gilbert.

“You can’t have perfect pitching every night,” Servais said.

The last time he failed to pitch at least six innings in an outing came on May 9 vs. the Twins at Target Field. He allowed eight runs on nine hits with two walks and four strikeouts. In the nine outings after that clunker, Gilbert posted a 2.54 ERA with 48 strikeouts and six walks and eight quality starts.

Gilbert looked strong in the first two innings, retiring six of the seven batters he faced with a pair of strikeouts.

But his outing fell apart in the third inning. The issues started when he got up 0-2 on No. 9 hitter Ramon Urias, the older brother of former Mariner Luis Urias, and couldn’t put him away, eventually walking him.

Gilbert came back to strike out the ultra-dangerous Gunnar Henderson, but the third out of the inning wouldn’t come for another five batters.

Adley Rutschman worked a two-out walk, refusing to chase a 3-2 slider just below the strike zone.

It looked as if Rodriguez might save Gilbert from impending doom when Ryan O’Hearn launched a slider to deep left-center.

Shaded more toward right-center, Rodriguez sprinted after the ball, covering 91 feet in just over 4 seconds per MLB Statcast data, but he couldn’t complete the play. The ball hit off the top of his glove as he slid on the warning track to avoid colliding with the wall.

“It was a great effort,” Gilbert said. “Most people probably don’t even get there. So I just appreciate the effort. He’s always covering all kinds of ground, more than most people out there. He’s picked me up plenty of times and he almost did it again. So I really appreciate what he does for us.”

It went for a two-run double for O’Hearn. The Orioles tacked on another run when Anthony Santander singled up the middle. It was the first time Gilbert had allowed three earned runs in an outing since June 10.

O’Hearn made it 4-0 in the fifth inning, yanking a slider over the wall in right field for his 11th homer of the season.

Given how abysmal the Mariners offense has been for the last two weeks, a four-run deficit felt more like 40 runs.

Baltimore starter Dean Kremer, a relatively nondescript MLB pitcher, who rocks an above-average man-bun, carved Seattle up for five scoreless innings, allowing just two hits — a pair of singles — with two walks and eight strikeouts.

The Mariners first run came after Kremer exited the game and Cal Raleigh greeted his replacement, lefty Keegan Akin, with a solo homer to left-center in the bottom of the sixth.

BOX SCORE

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