It was a chilly evening here in Seattle tonight, and the Orioles did not want the few people who actually attended the game in person to be here long. The retractable roof was closed as it is still rainy season, and it feels like this has a depressing effect on runs. But the Orioles had won 8 straight over the Mariners and were 7-2 following a loss. So, how could it all have gone wrong?
Safeco Joe Saunders is how. My pregame notes indicate that he has been money at Safeco, and tonight was no different. The Orioles started the game going in order in the top of the first. Michael Saunders, fresh off the DL, crushed a Zach Britton fastball for his first leadoff homer. Britton would find something of a groove after that, retiring the next 3 on grounders. The Orioles would go 1-2-3 in the second. Britton yielded a two out single, but got out of it for a relatively smooth second frame. In the the third, Nolan Reimold would single! With one out! But he would go no further. In fact, the Orioles did not have an at bat all night with a runner in scoring position. Britton continued his impressive pitching in the third, again yielding a harmless single.
And then the 4th inning. Spoiler alert: such promise! Manny Machado would get aboard via a single on a ball that apparently "even Robinson Cano" would have handled. But it would prove irrelevant as Adam Jones would ground into a DP. Chris Davis would work an impressive single through the left side down in the count. This would be important because on really the only hard hit ball of the night, the Orioles would grab the lead as Saunders' former battery mate would smack a ball into left field for a two run homer. So Matt Wieters' fourth bomb of the season would put the Orioles up 2-1. But Britton could not make the lead stand. Michael Morse would lead off the bottom of the 4th with a single. Jesus Montero, who draw a walk. Following a Justin Smoak flyout, Jason Bay would double down the line, and Morse would score from second. Robert Andino would single Montero in from third. Britton would step up at this point, striking out weak hitting Brendan Ryan for out #2. Michael Saunders would draw a walk, but Kyle Seager was retired to end the threat. 3-2 Mariners however.
The Orioles would go 1-2-3 in the fifth and sixth innings. In the bottom of the sixth, the Orioles were attacked. Literally. After Justin Smoak singled to lead off the inning, Zach Britton was apparently struck in the left shoulder by a ball thrown by the umpire. It would not prove to be a shot in the arm. Jason Bay would single, and with runners on first and second, Andino sacrificed the runners to second and third. Perfect, thought I, knowing Ryan is up next. Of course Ryan would hit safely scoring Smoak. With one out and runners on the corners, Michael Saunders would weakly ground the ball to second, but it was too slow for a double play, and Bay would score from third. 5-2. Kyle Seager would then lace a triple down the right field line to plate Saunders all the way from first, and this would prove to close out the scoring.
Chris Davis drew a walk in the 7th, but Wieters grounded into a double play. The Orioles would go 1-2-3 in the eighth and ninth, and that was your ballgame. Britton would finish up going six innings, allowing six earned runs on 10 hits and 2 walks, striking out 2 and posting a GB/FB of 10/6. Tommy Hunter pitched a scoreless 7th and 8th, allowing a hit and striking out 2. Safeco Joe Saunders would need 105 pitches to go the full 9, allowing 4 hits and a walk, striking out 2 and posting a GB/FB of 17/6.
Other notes: the radio broadcast noted that former Oriole coach Jeff Datz was diagnosed with cancer. Here is hoping he recovers soon.