The Seattle Mariners were slow out of the gate during Sunday’s game against the New York Yankees, and the result was MLB’s worst defensive inning in over 40 years.
Up 1-0 after the top of the first inning, the Mariners started off the bottom of the frame in routine fashion, retiring Aaron Hicks on a popup. The next batter, Starlin Castro, smacked a double to deep right field, giving the Yankees a good shot at erasing Seattle’s early lead.
Then, suddenly, the Mariners’ defense fell apart. It began when Gary Sanchez drove a base hit that skipped under the glove of left fielder Ben Gamel, allowing Castro to score from second. The following at bats were no easier, as Aaron Judge walked and Didi Gregorius hit an easy pop fly that dropped in the middle of three fielders, good for Seattle’s second error of the inning. One play later, third baseman Kyle Seager bobbled a routine grounder, allowing all baserunners to advance safely on what looked like a good chance at a double play.
Mariners starter Andrew Albers proceeded to strike out Todd Frazier for the second out of the inning, but his fielders weren’t finished. On the next play, after Jacoby Ellsbury hit a powerful line drive for extra bases, Seattle shortstop Jean Segura fumbled the cutoff throw, then sent the ball sailing past catcher Mike Zunino waiting at home. Three more runs crossed the plate, and the Mariners eventually finished the inning with some truly ugly numbers: five errors and six runs surrendered.
Take a look at Seattle’s defensive mishaps below:
According to ESPN and Elias Sports, the Mariners’ mark of five errors in one frame was the most by any team since the 1977 Cubs, who suffered their nightmare inning during a July 2 game against the Cardinals.
While the Yankees added four more runs over the next eight innings, the flustered Mariners couldn’t get anything going. They suffered a 10-1 loss, moving to 66-65 on the season.
The historically bad fielding performance would be more understandable if the Mariners were a poor defensive team, but they’re not – in fact, they rank first in the American League in defensive efficiency, even after Sunday’s woeful showing. It seems Seattle manager Scott Servais will have to chalk this one up as an unfortunate coincidence of mistakes.
Seattle’s next opponent will be the Baltimore Orioles, who are riding a four-game winning streak. The Mariners remain just 1.5 games out of the AL’s second wild card spot.