For the first time in what seems like an entire age of the world, the sun shone down on a baseball game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. The Orioles must not have remembered how to hit in daylight, because they could get almost nothing going against the Mariners as they lost the rubber game of the series, 7-2.
With the loss, the O's once again fall back into a tie - technically ahead by percentage points - with the Red Sox for the AL East lead. That nearly-nonexistent margin is what they will carry with them as they head out west to start a road trip.
It's hard to pinpoint the source of the struggle. Joking aside, it's not very likely that the Orioles were actually repulsed by the searing heat of the day star. Perhaps it was the unusual time of 12:35 that threw them off - they just weren't ready to start a game right then. Maybe it's actually that Seattle starter Nate Karns was a bad matchup for them.
Or maybe they just had a bad game for reasons that have nothing to do with any of this stuff, or for no particular reason at all. As the cliche goes, every team will win 60 and every team will lose 60 each year - it's what you do with the rest that counts. This could have just been one of the 60 games that the Orioles are sure to lose this year because some days you just lose.
Not that it's fair to pin the entire blame on the offense, either, because even if they had managed a couple more runs under the unfamiliar glowing orb that hung over their heads in the sky, that still would not have been enough thanks to O's starter Tyler Wilson giving up the full Tommy Hunter: Five runs, all earned. Never go full Tommy Hunter.
It wasn't a day-long struggle for Wilson. That's not how he rolls. Even though he gave up a couple of runs through five innings, it still felt like he was cruising because he kept his pitch count low and seemed to be in control of the game. That all fell apart in the sixth inning as Wilson tried to navigate his way through the Mariners lineup for the third time.
The third time is not the charm
This is the struggle for Wilson, and probably always will be. In his big league career before today, Wilson had allowed batters to hit .333/.391/.462 the third time through the order. His command faltered and a lineup full of lefties punished him for it. That was capped by a three run home run hit by Adam Lind, of all people. Lind is batting .224/.250/.336 this season. Don't give up a dinger to that guy!
It was a cheap home run if ever there was one. Lind poked a fly ball to the opposite field, one that did not clear the fence by much. Had left fielder Joey Rickard made a better jump instead of clumsily crashing into the wall, he might have even been able to make a play on the ball. Instead, Rickard lost his elevation and the ball went beyond him for a home run, giving the Mariners a comfortable margin in the game.
Two men were on base for the home run because Robinson Cano led off the inning with a double, and Wilson issued an intentional walk to Kyle Seager rather than continue to try to pitch to him after starting off with a 3-0 count. Wilson finished six innings, if you want to give him that, but that home run hurt.
The O's actually made things interesting, briefly, in the eighth inning of the game. Despite a lackluster performance early on in the game, they managed to bring the tying run to the plate with only one out. Bottom of the lineup hitter Ryan Flaherty drew a walk to turn the lineup over. Rickard singled and Machado drew the second O's walk of the inning to load the bases.
Adam Jones and Chris Davis were the next two batters due up once the bases were loaded. That's the way you want to set it up - get guys on for the power threats to swing and see what happens. Jones was swinging, all right... and he swung his way into a ground ball to short that only avoided being an inning-ending double play because it was hit so softly. Instead, it was an RBI fielder's choice.
So the tying run was still at the plate in the form of Davis. He was swinging free too, and he swung his way into a pop fly to center field, which would have been deep enough to score a run had there been fewer than two outs. Not much of a consolation, one must admit.
A small bit of interest is that Dylan Bundy relieved Wilson and pitched the final three innings of the game. Some part of the master plan to try to stretch Bundy out into a starter again? I wouldn't rule it out. The Mariners tagged Bundy for two runs, scoring in the ninth inning on another cheap home run.
Leonys Martin hit a fly ball that barely cleared the fence in right field. This time, it was a bumbling Flaherty who attempted to leap to make a catch and judged his jump poorly so he crashed into the fence before getting any elevation.
This ball had no business being a home run and if a real outfielder had been out there it may not have been. Maybe the bright blue sky confused Flaherty. That was a joke just there. So it goes.
For those people who are anxious about Bundy's strikeouts, or lack thereof, he picked up two strikeouts in his three innings of work today. That now gives him nine strikeouts in 16.1 innings of work this year.
The extra two runs had no impact on the game's outcome anyway. The Orioles went down 1-2-3 in the ninth inning, sealing their first home series loss of the year. Not much shame in that. The Mariners are good this year and in particular have been very good on the road - they've yet to lose a road series.
California awaits. The O's will next be in action against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Orange County, California, United States of America, Earth, on Friday night at the uncivilized time of 10:05pm Eastern. The series opener will see the O's face off against Angels lefty Hector Santiago, with Mike Wright scheduled to pitch for the Orioles.