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Caleb Smith makes Arizona debut, helps D-backs beat Mariners 4-3

UPDATED: Fri., Sept. 11, 2020

By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

The Seattle Mariners’ push for a postseason spot has slowed to almost a stop. And with the games remaining in the season dwindling — just 16 are left — losing games to one of the worst teams in the National League isn’t ideal.

What’s more frustrating? The Mariners had plenty of reasons to feel like they should’ve beaten the lowly Arizona Diamondbacks, who entered the game with the second-worst record in the National League.

The Mariners had basically one bad inning — the first — and hit many balls hard, with few things to show for it in a disappointing 4-3 loss to the Diamondbacks on Friday night at Chase Field. It was the Mariners’ third consecutive defeat, dropping them to 19-25 and proving that this unexpected position to compete for a playoff spot was more about circumstance than substance.

The Houston Astros were off Friday so they remained at 22-23 – 2½ games ahead of Seattle for second place in the American League West. The New York Yankees swept a doubleheader against the Orioles to improve to 24-21, leaving the Mariners three games back for the second wild card with the Orioles and Tigers ahead of them at 20-24.

Seattle isn’t out of it. But the scenarios to be in it become less and less possible.

Manager Scott Servais knew his team had hit the ball hard all night but had little to show for it — just three hits and three runs.

But when he was told that his team had put 14 balls into play with exit velocities higher than 94 mph, he just shook his head.

“I didn’t know it was that many,” he said in a postgame video conference. “I know it was a lot. There’s usually a few more runs on the board when that happens, so I really can’t fault our guys. Some nights baseball is not fair, and tonight was one of those nights. I thought we were right on a lot of pitches, drove some balls very well, just luck was not on our side.”

The Mariners got a decent start from left-hander Yusei Kikuchi. It would have been a solid start and a Mariners win if he could subtract a forgettable first inning.

Kikuchi pitched six innings, allowing four runs on six hits with a walk and five strikeouts. Three of those four runs came in a shaky first in which Kikuchi threw plenty of strikes – 20 of 24 pitches – but they were all hittable strikes, and the Diamondbacks were on them.

“I was throwing a lot of strikes, but they were kind of catching middle of the plate a lot,” Kikuchi said through interpreter Kevin Ando on a video call. “I think that was part of the reasons why I wasn’t getting the results I wanted.”

Tim Locastro led off with a single and scored on a one-out triple from Christian Walker. A sacrifice fly from Eduardo Escobar made it 2-0. Old Angels nemesis Kole Calhoun followed with a two-out double and scored on Nick Ahmed’s single to make it 3-0.

The Mariners trimmed the lead to 3-1 in the third on Dylan Moore’s laser of a line drive over the wall in left field. The solo shot was Moore’s seventh homer of the season.

The Diamondbacks picked up their fourth run off Kikuchi in the bottom of the third on a sacrifice fly from Calhoun.

Seattle chipped away at the lead with one run at a time. Jose Marmolejos made it 4-2 in the seventh with an RBI single, and Ty France trimmed it to 4-3 in the eighth with a monster solo homer to deep left-center.

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