It was Retro Day in Seattle today as the Mariners celebrated 1969, the year the Seattle Pilots first came to town, and the mood was totally righteous, man. Throwback uniforms were worn (I couldn’t quite get on board with the laurel branches on the Pilots caps, though), the strains of Hendrix and Zeppelin sounded all game, and one floppy hat-wearing Orioles fan grooving out between innings prompted Jim Palmer to ask, “Are certain drugs legal here?” “No,” said Gary Thorne. “Take a deep breath in and you’ll know that.”
For their part, Orioles faithful were hoping the team’s play wouldn’t call up memories of a different throwback team: the 1988 Orioles and their “franchise-best” 21-game losing streak. Well, worry not! It turns out the combination of good starting pitching, solid defense, and timely hitting will win you some ballgames.
It was another solid Cashner start, but he looked shaky in the first. With two outs, Cashner walked Domingo Santana to bring up DH Daniel Vogelbach, who I’d unhesitatingly describe as a very big boy. Vogelbach swung through one changeup but not a second, driving it deep into the gap to score Santana. 1-0 Mariners.
But Cashner settled down in a big way after that. He mowed down the Mariners hitters on seven pitches in the second, and nine in the third. That’s one way to keep the pitch count low!
It was a forgettable day, meanwhile, for Seattle lefty Tommy Milone, who came in with a 3.03 ERA, a .202 batting average against and just 6 walks in his last 33 innings. The Orioles couldn’t get to him in the first couple of innings, but some of the wounds were self-inflicted. In the second, Villar drew a rare Milone walk with one out. Lightning does sometimes strike twice, and Smith walked, too. Then… facepalm. Villar got caught leaning too far at second. Like that, two on, one out became one on, two outs, and a Santander strikeout sent everybody back to the dugout.
If you catch one inning on replay, please make it the fourth: a three-run homer in the top half and three web gems in the bottom? We’ll take it every time. With one out, Severino and Núñez squared up Milone changeups for a single and a double. TOOTBLAN author Villar turned on an inside fastball and drove it deep to left. Blessed redemption! 3-1 Orioles. Smith walked, but Milone fought back by striking out Anthony Santander and Keon Broxton on down-and-out stuff.
I forgive Broxton for everything given the inning he had in center. The slider is the pitch that’s been bothering Cashner; well, he finally threw one and almost got burned when Santana took him deep to the warning track. Fortunately, Broxton made a nice play to track it down. Whew! The next batter, Vogelbach, took a fastball deep to left-center. The ball was arcing away from Broxton, but on a sprint, he closed the gap and made a great lunging catch. Check it out.
Seager hit a pop foul down the third base line; Hanser Alberto took off and… made a sliding catch! Whah? I’m not sure we’ve played such good defense all year.
Richie Martin had his own Web Gem moment in the fifth: a full-out dive on a grounder, followed by a bullet of a throw to nail Tim Beckham by a hair. Cashner stumbled a bit, giving up singles to Mac Williamson and Dee Gordon, but he bit down to strike out Mallex Smith and J.P. Crawford. Fist pump!
The Orioles got two crucial insurance runs in the sixth against righty Gerson Bautista. He was throwing heat, but on 0-1 to Núñez, he threw four straight balls. DSJ hit into a fielder’s choice, erasing Núñez at second. Anthony Santander looked lost at the plate today against Milone, but clearly Bautista was speaking a language he could understand: he hung a slider that Santander pummeled into right. 5-1 Orioles.
The Mariners got one back in the sixth. Domingo Santana led off the sixth against Cashner with a double, then Vogelbach, who definitely has Cashner’s number, hit a ringing flyout to Broxton to advance Santana. Narváez hit a grounder to third. It should have been out number two, but a terrible throw by Alberto (can hit, can catch, can’t throw) drew Mancini off the bag (Narváez got the RBI). Cashner got a forceout from Kyle Seager and a Tim Beckham groundout to end the inning and his day: six IP, 99 P, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO.
The Orioles got the run right back. Richie Martin led off the seventh against reliever Dan Altavilla with a single and a stolen base. Alberto bunted Martin to third. Small ball! Mancini, who had a hit on the day (a good sign!) got an intentional walk, then Sevvie scored Martin with a sac fly. 6-2 Orioles.
Jimmie Yacabonis came on in the seventh looking, to my surprise, like a bona fide relief pitcher. He struck out the side on his best pitch, the slider.
Against the lefty Jesse Biddle, the Orioles kept up the assault in the eighth. Villar led off with a single, DSJ walked for the third time this game, Broxton sac-bunted Villar over, and Richie Martin worked a tough walk. Up came slayer of lefties Alberto (.415/.427/.948 against LHPs) and delivered a two-out single to left that scored two runs. 8-2 Orioles.
Could the Orioles get the last six outs? Well, yes, they could, but it wasn’t easy. It never is. I was not pleased to see Josh Rogers in the eighth, and he repaid my faith by giving up a bopper to Santana and a walk to Omar Narvaez. Sigh. OK, but just one run. Hyde brought on Mychal Givens in in the ninth—which Givens would show up today? Um, kinda both. Givens walked Williamson and gave up a run-scoring double to Mallex Smith, but struck out the last two batters.
Sure, the bullpen was decidedly meh, but a win is a win! It’s been a while, so enjoy this one.
Who was the Most Birdland Player today?
This poll is closed
Andrew Cashner (6.0 IP, 99 P, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO)
Jonathan Villar (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI)
Keon Broxton (run scored, two Cashner ass-saving catches in the fourth)
Hanser Alberto (1-for-4, 2 RBI, snazzy sliding catch in foul territory)
Richie Martin (1-for-3, walk, SB, run scored, web gem)