Orioles 4, Mariners 8: Justin Smoak, Michael Saunders sink the O's

Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Failure abounded all around in Saturday's game, but most of it involved the Orioles at the plate or on the mound and they fell to the Mariners, 8-4.

The story of a 19-game stretch for the Orioles is one of solid starting pitching, with 13 quality starts in 19 games heading into Saturday night. Scott Feldman did not decide to keep those good times rolling. He was nothing resembling sharp or good today, and he paid for it and the Orioles' place in the standings paid in turn. The Mariners kept raining hits down on the O's bullpen and the offense could not overcome the deficit despite a pair of home runs and the O's fell, 8-4, in the second game of the series.

There is not much positive to be said about a game where the team musters two hits - both solo home runs - in the first six innings against Erasmo Ramirez. They came to the plate 20 times in those six innings and had a .100 average.

Thanks to Feldman, they were trailing by what seemed to be an insurmountable four-run deficit by that point. Feldman never got a 1-2-3 inning on the night and ultimately allowed five runs, all earned, in only 4.2 innings pitched. He left with two men on base and T.J. McFarland obliged him by giving up a home run to Michael Saunders, his ninth of the year, which put the O's in a 6-2 hole at that point.

A brief window of promise came in the seventh inning, when a tiring Ramirez was due to face the 3-4-5 hitters of the Orioles lineup. Nick Markakis took two pitches, both called strikes, though one was clearly high and outside, and manager Buck Showalter took exception to the pitch, screaming his feelings from the dugout. For his trouble, he was ejected by home plate umpire Larry Vanover, and to the delight of the crowd, came out to get his money's worth with a red-faced shoutfest with Vanover.

The crowd of 35,231, largely dormant up until then, was awakened, and Markakis responded by working his way out of that 0-2 count and singling a pitch into right. Adam Jones followed up with a line drive off the out-of-town scoreboard that was good for a double, advancing Markakis to third. That chased Ramirez from the game.

He was relieved by Charlie Furbush, who allowed both of the inherited runners to score, one on a sacrifice fly by Chris Davis - his 102nd RBI and only positive contribution on the night - and one on a single by Matt Wieters, who also homered in the second inning (number 15) to put the O's on the board. Wieters followed this up by getting a massive jump and stealing second base, the sixth steal of his career and second this season. Neither Henry Urrutia nor Ryan Flaherty was able to do anything with the runner in scoring position. The O's had a 6-4 deficit and were clawing their way back.

That was not to last, because McFarland was not the only O's reliever to have problems on the night. Darren O'Day came on for the ninth inning and he was not sharp either. He gave up a double to Justin Smoak and then served up a home run to Saunders, his second of the night and tenth of the season.

The relative performance of the teams 7-8-9 hitters was the difference in the game. Seattle's Smoak went 3-3 with a double, home run, and two walks. Saunders had a pair of home runs in the game and added a walk, and Humberto Quintero had a pair of singles. Urrutia, Flaherty, and Alexi Casilla were a combined 0-10. The Seattle 7-8-9 hitters reached base as many times as did the entire Orioles lineup combined.

The O's had four walks and six hits. The Mariners left more men on base than the O's had on base at all. They had twelve men left on. With fifteen hits and seven walks, they could have scored even more than they did. They probably would have, if it wasn't for a very rare double-TOOTBLAN (thrown out on the basepaths like a nincompoop) in the eighth inning, bailing out Brian Matusz.

Nick Franklin lead off the inning with a walk, followed by a Kyle Seager strikeout. Matusz seemed to be heading towards a meltdown when Kendrys Morales and Raul Ibanez hit back-to-back singles. However, Ibanez's single went off the out-of-town scoreboard and Markakis played it well, firing a relay throw in to Casilla, who gunned a throw to Wieters and nailed Franklin at the plate. While this was going on, Ibanez was running towards second, and was left hanging out to dry as Wieters tagged out Franklin. He scrambled back towards first, where he was tagged out by Davis.

The play was a single that turned into a 9-4-2-3 double play and ended the inning. It's the kind of play that might have been said to be a momentum-shifter, if the Orioles could capitalize in the bottom half of the inning. Manny Machado tried to spark a two-out rally with a double, his 40th of the season and first since July 6. Markakis worked a walk, but Seattle brought in Danny Farquhar, who had 50 strikeouts in 33 innings, to face Adam Jones. You might have expected a Jones strikeout, but instead he chased the first pitch and hit a soft line drive to center to end the threat.

Machado also had a home run on the day, hitting his 10th of the season in the fourth inning.

Farquhar pitched a scoreless ninth to earn his first career save. He now has 52 strikeouts in 34.1 innings pitched. Feldman took the loss, dropping to 2-3 as an Oriole, and Ramirez picked up the win, going to a 3-0 record despite a 7.25 ERA.

Following this display of offensive futility, the Orioles will have to pick themselves up Sunday against their kryptonite, a soft-tossing lefty, namely Joe Saunders. They'll send out a lefty of their own in the rubber match, Wei-Yin Chen. These are the games they are supposed to be winning and they haven't gotten off to a great start at that. Perhaps they'll do better on Sunday. The game starts at 1:35.

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