For six innings in Seattle Monday, Jason Hammel looked as if he was going to once again bail out the impotent Orioles offense. The Orioles ace had surrendered just one run on five hits. He’d struck out seven Mariners, and had the birds in a position to win the first game in the west coast swing, despite his lack of support.
The Orioles held a 3-1 lead heading into the bottom of the seventh. It would be gone before the top of the eighth.
Hammel (L, 8-4) walked Dustin Ackley to start the Mariners seventh. Ackley stole second, and moved to third on Munenori Kawasaki’s single to left. With two outs, Hammel appeared to pitch around Ichiro Suzuki, walking the M’s star right fielder to load the bases, and setting up a confrontation with Casper Wells.
Wells had figured Hammel out with a single to center in his previous at-bat, after fanning his first two times up. Hammel got ahead 0-1, but Wells drove Hammel’s second pitch into the gap in right-center, clearing the bases. Hammel’s night was over, with the Mariners up 4-3.
Did you know that power outages could be carried from coast-to-coast? The Orioles offense showed they were still in the dark Monday, scoring on just one swing of the bat: a 3-run home run from Chris Davis in the fourth. Even with spot-starter Hisashi Iwakuma filling for an injured Kevin Millwood, even against inconsistent reliever Steve Delabar (W, 2-1) and his 4.78 ERA, the Orioles lineup looked like a group of men who play baseball as a hobby rather than a profession.
The Orioles actually hit .500 with runners in scoring position, but only because, all night, they had just two such opportunities. They collected just three hits, and only six baserunners. They picked up just one baserunner in the last four innings, and went quietly into the Seattle night.
The Mariners weren’t finished after chasing Hammel, though. Troy Patton gave up back-to-back home runs on consecutive pitches to Miguel Olivo (a .209 hitter with 6 home runs and 16 RBI coming in Monday) and Ackley (.239/4/23 before play Monday) in the eighth, and The Mariners took game 1 of the series, 6-3.
Game two of the set features Wei-Yen Chen (7-4, 3.73) vs. Mariners All-Star Felix Hernandez (6-5, 3.09). Game time is 10:10.
- It’s nice to see Davis swinging the bat with authority again. He collected two of the three Orioles hits, adding a double off the wall to his 14th home run.
- Jim Thome picked up the O’s other hit, his first as an Oriole. He becomes the 12th player this year to pick up his first Oriole hit.
- Hammel, again working with very little margin for error, pitched far better than his final line (6.2 IP, 7H, 4ER, 2BB, 8K) indicates.
- Brian Roberts missed the game with a sore groin. Starting for him at second, Robert Andino committed his 11th error, and went 0-4 with a strikeout in the leadoff spot. Andino also missed a throw in the Mariners’ 3-run eighth.
- Steve Pearce couldn’t squeeze a fly ball off the bat of John Jaso that was ruled a double in the sixth. It ended up not costing the Orioles, as Hammel came back to get the next two batters, but it was part of a pretty sloppy night defensively. Andino’s miscues and Adam Jones missing a cutoff man were other defensive low points.
- Numbers 1-4 in the lineup were a combined 0-16 with 0 walks and 6 strikeouts.
- Even though he pitched well, Hammel’s loss won’t do him any favors with voters for the final man in the All-Star game.