This was Chinese water torture. Death by a thousand cuts. Or being hole-punched to death.
The Orioles were blown out Sunday, but they weren’t blown away. Instead, the manner of execution was slow and deliberate - a single here, a walk there, another single. A run, two runs, three runs...
It’s methodical, but as the Orioles found out, it’s plenty effective. The Mariners scored eight runs in the third inning to doom Gabriel Ynoa to a miserable outing, Matt Wotherspoon to just as bad an afternoon, and the Orioles to what ended up being a 13-3 loss.
For a while - granted, a brief while - things looked good. Trey Mancini homered in the first for a 1-0 lead, and Hanser Alberto doubled in a run in the second for a 2-1 advantage. Early indications were that we were going to have a game.
The problem for the Orioles, however, was that Ynoa was on the mound, and as was the case in his last start against Oakland, he wasn’t up to the task of keeping his team in the contest. The warning signs were there early, as Ynoa went 0-for-2 in early shutdown inning attempts, allowing the Mariners to tie the game on a J.P. Crawford home run in the bottom of the first inning, and then again on a double play in the bottom of the second.
In the third, Ynoa again got himself into trouble right away. He walked Mallex Smith, then gave up a single to Crawford to put runners at the corners. The Mariners took a 3-2 lead on Domingo Santana’s inside-out single against the shift to the right side of the infield, and a walk to Daniel Vogelbach loaded the bases.
Omar Narvaez followed with a sacrifice fly, making it 4-2, and Ynoa loaded the bases again by walking Kyle Seager. The call to the bullpen came immediately after, ending a woeful day for Ynoa, who made it only 2.1 innings but still had enough time to walk three, allow five hits and still leave a bases-loaded mess for his successor.
That was Wotherspoon, who was making his first appearance since getting called up from Norfolk on Saturday. It didn’t go well, and with Wotherspoon on the mound, what was already a fire became an inferno.
Austin Nola singled to center, making it 5-2 with the bases still loaded. Mac Williamson was hit by a pitch, 6-2 and still loaded. Dee Gordon singled, 7-2 and still loaded. Smith singled to right, 8-2, sacks still full.
“Painful,” broadcaster Gary Thorne said. “This is like one jab at a time.”
Well put. Crawford singled in two, making it 10-2, before Wotherspoon and the Orioles finally got the last two outs. The Mariners weren’t finished; Williamson smacked a two-run home run in the fourth to make it 12-2, and Crawford’s sacrifice fly answered a Renato Nunez double and run and made it 13-3 in the seventh.
The meltdown made a dud out of a game that started far more auspiciously. Mancini, who thrives in the first inning, homered on the fifth pitch of the game, and in the second, the Orioles got the first two batters on before Richie Martin grounded into a double play. Alberto made sure the O’s wouldn’t end the inning empty-handed, however, lining a ball down the right-field line for a double to score Anthony Santander and make it 2-1.
At that point, Mariners pitcher Yusei Kikuchi was on the ropes and struggling with his command, having allowed three hits and four walks, and the feeling was setting in that the Orioles should have done more, and should have opened up more than a 2-1 lead.
There was no answer to what was to come, however, as the Orioles lost both the lead and the game in the span of an inning. Everything about it was ugly, from the inability of Ynoa (charged with seven earned runs) to contain the Mariners to Wotherspoon’s failure to stop the bleeding, and it’s worth questioning the decision by manager Brandon Hyde to put someone fresh out of the minors into a bases-loaded jam in a game that, at 4-2 and with Kikuchi on the mound, was still winnable.
At the same time, the Orioles’ bullpen has been over-taxed, and it’s understandable that Hyde chose to use a more expendable arm, rather than a core reliever, in a precarious spot so early in the game. It’s also difficult to blame the manager for a game like this. He can only select from the pitchers he has, and at some point, it’s on them as major leaguers to be able to limit the damage without completely falling apart.
On Sunday, regardless of who was on the mound, that didn’t happen.