The Orioles couldn’t contain the Mariners’ hot-hitting duo of Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz tonight, and for good measure they yielded some runs to Kyle Seager as well. The fireworks began right away. Ubaldo Jimenez struck out Nori Aoki to begin the night, but Seth Smith walked and Robinso Cano doubled him to third. Former Oriole Nelson Cruz then singled down the right field line, scoring both runners for a two-run Seattle lead.
Fans everywhere felt a cold chill: Bad Ubaldo had come to play.
But being down 2-0 in the first inning isn’t so terrible. I thought the Orioles had a chance when they made Wade Miley work for 30 pitches in the bottom half, including two walks. Typically that’s a good sign, but the team wasn’t able to put any runs on the board
The offensive futility foreshadowed the rest of the game. The Orioles didn’t get their first hit until Matt Wieters singled to begin the 5th. Miley only struck out one and didn’t allow a lot of ground balls; the Orioles batters just couldn’t make anything happen. Perhaps the cold, wet night helped keep fly balls in the yard and away from the power alley.
Meanwhile, the Mariners built on their 2-0 lead. Starting with their third time through the order, they battered Jimenez for four runs and pounced on Brian Matusz for several as well. In the bottom of the 5th, Jimenez retired Leonys Martin but Aoki led off with a single and Seth Smith walked (again). Cano and Cruz followed with back-to-back singles, scoring Aoki and Smith to make it 4-0.
Buck had had enough. With Jimenez already at 90 pitches with one out in the 5th, in came Brian Matusz. It seemed like a good move because the Mariners had stacked their lineup with lefties to face Jimenez. Matusz typically does well against lefties, and indeed he quickly got Seager to 0-2.
But then he hung a change-up and Seager didn’t miss it, blasting it into the right-field stands for a reverse Earl Weaver special. That made the score 7-0 Mariners and all my comeback hopes went down the drain. Sigh.
Matusz got out of the remainder of the inning but hurt the team more in the 6th. With one out and Seth Smith at first base, Cano doubled him home to make it 8-0 Mariners. Nelson Cruz followed by blasting a 1-1 hanging slider over the wall in left, pushing the score to 10-0.
Vance Worley pitched the 7th, 8th, and 9th without incident. That kind of mop-up duty should be appreciated. And after two more innings of offensive futility, Buck rested some of the regulars. Adam Jones, Chris Davis, and Manny Machado hit the showers. Hyun-Soo Kim entered in left field, Pedro Alvarez came in at third base, and Ryan Flaherty filled in at first base. Joey Rickard moved to center and Paul Janish took over at short. Matt Wieters had switched with Caleb Joseph one inning prior.
1/3 of Team Steve did make an appearance. So that’s fun! Former Oriole Steve Johnson pitched for the Mariners in the bottom of the 9th. The first batter he faced was Kim, who reached first base on a throwing error by Cano’s substitute Shawn O’Malley. The next batter Alvarez hit into a double play, except the shortstop Ketel Marte wasn’t touching second base when he caught and threw the ball, and the throw to first was late.
The Orioles should’ve had two runners on with none out; replays showed this conclusively and Buck did challenge. Yet the umpires refused to see it. Or they wanted to get out of the cold rain. Or something.
The loss drops the Orioles to 23-14, while the Mariners move to 22-15. Tomorrow night sees Taijuan Walker face Chris Tillman. FiveThirtyEight gives the Orioles a 55% chance of winning.