After the first two games of the Houston series, it looked like the Orioles might be heading to Seattle with dark clouds hanging over their heads. The O’s were staring down the possibility of starting their West Coast road trip coming off their first sweep in over a year—and at the hands of a team they’re likely to see in the postseason. Instead, the O’s did what good teams do and bounced back with a scrappy victory over the Astros in the series finale. The “not swept” streak lives at 76 and the Orioles arrive in the Pacific Northwest with a renewed sunny outlook.
Both the Orioles and the Mariners come into the series with plenty riding on every win and loss. For Baltimore, the goal is the same it has been since the All-Star break: keep winning and you control your own destiny in the AL East. For Seattle, things are slightly more desperate. The Mariners are currently the first team out of the playoffs, sitting a game and a half behind the Blue Jays for the last Wild Card spot. The good news for M’s fans is they’ve been one of the best teams of the second half. They’ve won six of their last eight series after the All-Star break and come into the matchup with Baltimore on a seven-game winning streak.
The M’s and O’s met once previously this season, with the Orioles taking two out of three in Camden Yards. The highlights from that series included a Ryan McKenna walk-off HR in game two and Kyle Bradish, Danny Coloumbe and Félix Bautista combining to strike out 11 and take the Sunday rubber match.
There also seems to be a friendly rivalry of sorts that is rekindled every time these two teams meet. Seattle, for a team that is all the way across the country, share several inescapable links with the Orioles. Whether it’s Ken Griffey Jr. bouncing HRs off the warehouse in the 1993 Home Run Derby, Cal Ripken Jr. playing his last All-Star Game in Seattle, the Erik Bedard/Adam Jones trade or this year’s All-Star game, the Mariners share in some shining moments from Orioles history.
The O’s would like to reverse some recent history against the M’s, as they haven’t won the season series with Seattle since 2017 and have lost five of their last six series in T-Mobile Park. To take the series, the O’s will have to contend with a Mariners lineup that’s hitting much better in the second half. Over the last 25 games, the Mariners have raised their team average from a paltry .233 in the first half to a respectable .250 in the second half. The M’s have also raised their slugging percentage by 50 points since the All-Star break. That offensive revolution has been largely led by shortstop and leadoff hitter J.P. Crawford, who is slashing .307/.431/.466 since the break.
Game 1: Friday, August 11th, 10:10pm ET, MASN 2
Probable pitchers: Kyle Gibson (11-6, 4.50 ERA, 1.28 WHIP) vs. Luis Castillo (7-7, 3.21 ERA, 1.05 ERA)
Gibson comes into Game 1 after earning his 100th major league win last Saturday against the Mets. Gibson had some of his best swing and miss stuff of the season against New York, generating 17 swings and misses en route to nine strikeouts. The 12-year vet will have something to prove after struggling greatly in his home start against the Mariners. In his worst start of the season, Gibby lasted only three innings against the M’s, giving up seven hits and five earned runs.
Gibson’s sinker was hit particularly hard in the matchup as the Mariners went 5-9 with four singles and a HR against the righty’s primary pitch. Since then, the O’s veteran leader has relied more on his changeup and four-seamer—to great effect. Over his last three starts, he’s holding hitters to a .177 average with a 2.84 average. He’ll look to continue that form in a stadium where he’s often found success throughout his career. In seven career starts at T-Mobile Park, Gibson has a 3.35 ERA.
Opposing Gibson for the Mariners is their All-Star starter Luis Castillo. Since being traded from the Reds to the Mariners at last year’s trade deadline, Castillo has been worth everything Seattle paid to bring him to the Pacific Northwest. In 34 starts for the M’s, Castillo has a 3.20 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and has racked up 232 Ks in 202.2 innings. The 30-year-old has been particularly stingy at T-Mobile Park, holding opponents to a .186 BAA, striking out 11.4 batters per nine innings and posting a 2.36 ERA. Once a pitcher that relied heavily on his changeup, Castillo has become more of a traditional fastball-slider pitcher in Seattle. The slider is Castillo’s go-to out pitch, so look for Ramón Urías and Ryan Mountcastle to tee off on his breaking ball.
Game 2: Saturday, August 12th, 9:40pm ET, MASN 2
Probable pitchers: Cole Irvin (1-3, 5.44 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) vs. George Kirby (10-8, 3.32 ERA, 1.05 WHIP)
If the Friday pitching matchup seems lopsided against the Orioles, the Saturday matchup isn’t much better. With Brandon Hyde making the decision to push back Kyle Bradish’s next start one day, that likely means Cole Irvin gets a spot start against the Mariners.
The good news for Irvin is that he’s plenty familiar with this Seattle team, having spent the last two years playing in the same division with the A’s. The bad news is that Seattle hitters have dominated Irvin any time they’ve come up against him. In six career starts vs. the Mariners, Irvin is 0-6 with an 8.42 ERA, .357 BAA and is giving up a .944 OPS. In his two career starts at T-Mobile park, Irvin allowed nine runs over seven combined innings. If the Orioles decide to give Irvin a short leash and make things more of a bullpen game, that might be their best chance at winning.
Opposing Irvin is another 2023 All-Star in George Kirby. The good news for the Orioles here is that they’re already 1-0 against Kirby this season. The 25-year-old right hander started and lost the series finale back in Baltimore, giving up six hits and three runs (two earned) over 6.1 innings. Kirby’s calling card this season has been his incredibly low walk rate, as he ranks 1st among all qualified starters with a 0.9 BB/9. He couples that with a relatively good chase rate, particularly against his four-seamer and sinker.
Adley Rutschman and Anthony Santander have been the Orioles’ best fastball hitters all season, and Tony Taters even took Kirby deep the last time these teams faced off. The Orioles have excelled at attacking first pitch fastballs all season, so look for them to go after Kirby early. The Mariner’s second-year starter throws his fastball first pitch 35% and works his entire pitch mix off getting early strikes with that four-seamer.
Game 3: Sunday, August 13th, 4:10pm ET, MASN 2
Probable pitchers: Kyle Bradish (7-6, 3.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) vs. Bryce Miller (7-4, 4.20 ERA, 1.04 WHIP)
The Orioles would-be ace certainly showed some signs of fatigue in his last start, lasting only 4.2 innings and issuing five walks against the Mets. The hope for Bradish is that the extra day of rest will get him back to pitcher that has regularly taken over games for the Orioles since the beginning of July. In those seven starts since the beginning of last month, Bradish is sporting a 2.27 ERA while limiting opponents to a .208 average and a .616 OPS. His last outing against New York was the only time he didn’t complete 6+ innings and in only two of those seven starts has he allowed 3+ runs. If the playoffs started today, Bradish would be the pitcher most of Birdland would want to see get the ball Game 1.
Bradish has also found plenty of success in his two career starts against Seattle. Last year in Baltimore, he went 4.2 innings against the M’s, allowing only two runs and striking out six in a game Baltimore won 9-2. Then, earlier this season season in Camden Yards, Bradish outdueled Kirby by going seven innings, allowing only two hits and two runs and striking out seven. In that earlier win over the Mariners, Bradish threw the second most sliders he’s throw in any start this season. Most of the top of the Mariners lineup struggle greatly against sliders, so if Bradish can be effective with his location, he could be in for another impressive outing.
Standing in the way of a Bradish and an Orioles win on Sunday will be rookie right-hander Bryce Miller. The former 4th-round draft pick out of Texas A&M has gone through the typical ups and downs you’d expect from a 24-year-old starter in his first season. He’s had some excellent outings; across his first five starts he only allowed four runs total and had three scoreless games. He’s also had some clunkers: eight runs against the Yankees in 4.2 innings, seven runs against Texas over 2.1 innings, and back-to-back starts against Minnesota and Boston where he allowed six runs over 5.2 innings in each.
In his previous start against the O’s, Miller was in line for the loss after giving up three runs over 4.1 innings, though an Orioles bullpen malfunction saved him from taking the L. Miller—who would’ve been Grayson Rodriguez’s college teammate had Grayson honored his commitment to A&M—relies heavily on his fastball. He throws his four-seamer about 65% of the time and the Orioles took advantage of it in their first meeting. The O’s went 5-15 with five singles against Miller’s fastball and were able to put his heater in play nine times. Much like against Kirby, hitters like Rutschman, Santander and Austin Hays will look to tee off on Miller’s heaters and try and get the rookie out of the game early.
With Tampa Bay welcoming a scuffling Guardians team to St. Petersburg this weekend, there will be plenty of motivation for the Orioles to beat Seattle to try and maintain (or maybe grow) their three-game lead in the AL East. Meanwhile, for the Mariners they will look to keep up with other Wild Card contenders like Boston and Toronto who face much easier opponents this weekend. The good news for all of Birdland: the O’s still have the best road record in all of baseball and haven’t lost a road series to an AL opponent since the opening series in Boston.
How many games will the Orioles win in Seattle?
This poll is closed
Three (sweep the M’s)
Zero (the streak ends)