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Orioles-Mariners series preview: Reeling O’s get a team with its own problems in Seattle

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Orioles limp out of Oakland after sweep at hands of Athletics, but Mariners are having a woeful year of their own.

MLB: Baltimore Orioles at Seattle Mariners Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s hoping the second and final stop on the Orioles’ West Coast trip fares better than the first.

It can’t go much worse.

The O’s were handled easily in their last series, swept by the Athletics in a three-game set. After a competitive 3-2 loss in the opener, Baltimore was battered by Oakland, losing the last two games by a combined score of 24-5. The pitching waited a game to implode, but the bats were cold from the start, as Baltimore managed only 13 hits over the three games, only one of which - a Jonathan Villar home run in the second game - went for extra bases.

That, though, was then, and now the Orioles take on a Mariners team that is having a year of its own to forget. A great story in the first two weeks of the season, when it started the season and Japan and won seven of its first eight games, Seattle has been sinking since, falling to 32-46 and last place in the AL West. The Mariners are coming off of a series loss to the Royals, and haven’t won back-to-back games since May 14.

Pitching has been the culprit for the Mariners, who have the second-worst team ERA in the majors at 5.40 (though they’ll have the best in this series, since Baltimore is dead-last at 5.68). Seattle has also been plagued by home runs, offering again the second-most in baseball with 134 (three guesses who’s allowed the most, and the first two don’t count), and the Mariners’ WHIP is — you guessed it — the second-worst in baseball (1.468) in front of only — you got it again — Baltimore’s 1.485.

Though only 22nd in baseball in team batting average, Seattle is second in the majors in home runs at 133, although top slugger Edwin Encarnacion is now a Yankee. The top threat left over has been Daniel Vogelbach, who has 17 home runs and 40 RBI with a .924 OPS.

Game 1 - Thursday, 10:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • Dylan Bundy: 14 GS, 75 IP, 4.44 ERA, 4.93 FIP, 1.280 WHIP, 78 SO, 26 BB
  • Wade LeBlanc: 6 GS, 45 IP, 6.20 ERA, 5.28 FIP, 1.467 WHIP, 34 SO, 10 BB

The Orioles will kick off the series by giving the ball to Bundy, who has turned himself into a solid, if unspectacular, starter. Bundy has trimmed his ERA from 5.31 on May 11 to its current 4.44 mark, and has allowed three runs in each of his last five starts and six of his last seven. In his last start, he allowed eight hits and two runs in five innings in a 7-2 loss to Boston.

LeBlanc will make his first start since May 29. He’s made three appearances out of the bullpen since, including an eight-inning job against Houston on June 3. In starts, he’s 2-2 with a 6.99 ERA.

Game 2 - Friday, 10:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • John Means: 12 GS, 70.2 IP, 2.67 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.146 WHIP, 59 SO, 21 BB
  • Mike Leake: 15 GS, 95.2 IP, 4.14 ERA, 5.31 FIP, 1.223 WHIP, 69 SO, 16 BB

With each week, Means provides reason to think his hot season is more than a fluke. In his last start against Boston, Means allowed only two earned runs, though he only made it five innings. Means has been steady and solid, but his inability so far to pitch deep into games has given the O’s bullpen chances to negate his hard work.

Leake has been the Mariners’ best starter this season. The 31-year-old has found a rhythm in his last four starts, going 3-0 with a 2.40 ERA. During that stretch, batters have hit .216 against him.

Game 3 - Saturday, 4:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • Andrew Cashner: 14 GS, 76.1 IP, 4.48 ERA, 4.75 FIP, 1.336 WHIP, 53 SO, 27 BB
  • Tommy Milone: 3 GS, 32.2 IP, 3.03 ERA, 3.66 FIP, 0.888 WHIP, 32 SO, 5 BB

After an up-and-down May, Cashner has impressed in his last two starts. The right-hander allowed one run in six innings in a 4-1 win over Houston, then allowed only one earned run in six innings in a 3-2 loss to Oakland. He’ll get his first start of the year against Seattle; for his career, he’s 2-5 with a 4.22 ERA against the Mariners.

Milone started in his first three appearances for Seattle, then pitched out of the bullpen starting June 6. He’s pitched well in both capacities; his control has been excellent, and opponents are hitting only .202 against him. In his last outing, he took over for starter Tayler Scott with two outs in the first against Kansas City and allowed one run and three hits in 6.1 innings while striking out six.

Game 4 - Sunday, 4:10 p.m.

Starting pitchers

  • Gabriel Ynoa: 5 GS, 43 IP, 5.65 ERA, 6.03 FIP, 1.442 WHIP, 31 SO, 13 BB
  • Yusei Kikuchi: 16 GS, 80.1 IP, 5.15 ERA, 5.43 FIP, 1.481 WHIP, 60 SO, 24 BB

Ynoa will be looking for a bounce-back performance after a rough outing against Oakland on Tuesday. Ynoa pitched 5.1 innings but allowed six runs - all earned - on seven hits, three of which left the ballpark. It was his first bad outing since entering the rotation on May 27; he had compiled a 4.50 ERA over four starts before that point.

Kikuchi, a 28-year-old rookie, has six quality starts this season, but none since May 19, and he’s gone 0-4 with a 10.35 ERA in the five starts since, raising his ERA from 3.43 to 5.15. He allowed six runs in five innings in his previous start, a 9-0 loss to Kansas City on June 18.

Poll

How many games will the Orioles win against the Mariners this series?

This poll is closed

  • 10%
    0 (The Orioles get swept)
    (15 votes)
  • 48%
    1
    (67 votes)
  • 28%
    2
    (39 votes)
  • 5%
    3
    (8 votes)
  • 5%
    4 (The Orioles sweep the Mariners)
    (8 votes)
137 votes total Vote Now