Seattle Mariners Drop Another Heartbreaker, Swept out of Nation's Capital

Sean LarsonContributor IIIJune 23, 2011

The Nationals celebrate their second walk off win in three games.
The Nationals celebrate their second walk off win in three games.Rob Carr/Getty Images

It seems like when the Seattle Mariners lose lately, they have a need to rip the hearts out of their fans while they do it.

Seattle lost to the Washington Nationals 1-0 Thursday afternoon on a walk-off sacrifice fly to left field by Laynce Nix. It was the Mariners' second walk-off loss in the series.

In the opener on Tuesday night, the Nationals made a miraculous ninth inning comeback, scoring five runs in the bottom of the ninth to defeat the Mariners 6-5.

Michael Pineda delivered another solid outing for the Mariners. The 22-year-old rookie threw seven shutout innings, giving up only four hits and one walk. Pineda also struck out nine batters.

Surprisingly, Pineda also delivered at the plate. Washington starter Jason Marquis took a no-hitter into the sixth inning when Pineda got his first career hit, a shallow blooper into center field.

Dustin Ackley had a quiet day, going 0-3 with a walk. Ackley was just called up last Friday for the series against the Phillies. In his first five games, Ackley is hitting .313 with one home run and three RBI.

Ackley, who was the second pick overall in 2009, was one of the Mariners prized possessions in their farm system.

Yet again, the Mariners bats failed to provide run support for their pitchers. Seattle has the worst team batting average in baseball (.230) as well as the worst on-base percentage (.298). Their 260 runs scored this season ranks 28th in baseball.

If anything is keeping their season afloat, it is the dominant pitching. Seattle ranks fourth in ERA (3.30), second in quality starts (47), 3rd in WHIP (1.19), and fifth in bating average against (.239).

The number of quality starts by the Mariners is perhaps the most interesting stat. A quality start basically means that a pitcher had a good game, and if his team lost, it was after he was already taken out of the game.

The Mariners have 37 wins this season so far, and 47 quality starts. That means that 10 of their 38 losses were late inning heart-breakers.

Take those 10 losses, turn them into wins, and the Mariners have a record of 47-28, which would put them in first place ahead of Texas by 7.5 games. They would also be tied with the Phillies for the best record in baseball.

Fortunately for the Mariners, it seems that when they lose, so do the Rangers. Both Seattle and Texas are 4-6 in their last 10 games. The Mariners now trail Texas by 2.5 games.

Come October, we could see a situation similar to what happened to San Diego in 2005. That season, the Padres won the NL West with a record of 82-80. That is also the worst ever division winning record in baseball history.

It seems that neither the Rangers or Mariners can win consistently, so when it is time to crown a division champion, Majestic might want to consider throwing an asterisk on the division champions gear.