Orioles swept by Mariners in series full of frustration

Game 1 (5-3 SEA): The Orioles returned home this week after picking up just their third road series win of the season this past weekend in Atlanta. For the visiting Mariners, this series marked the final stop of a lengthy east coast trip. It also marked their third straight series against AL East competition after they got swept by New York and only took one in Boston.

Seattle got back on track in Monday’s series opener. Dee Gordon got the scoring started with a two-RBI single in the second. It was a slim lead for the Mariners but the Orioles would end up playing from behind for most of the night.

A Jonathan Schoop solo homer put the O’s on the board in the fifth, but Denard Span got that run back in the next half inning with a homer of his own. The Orioles kept the offensive momentum going in the sixth and managed to tie it up thanks to a series of quality at-bats. Manny Machado got it started with a leadoff single. Mark Trumbo followed that up with a walk and then Chris Davis was hit by a pitch to load the bases.

The O’s failed to record a hit through the rest of the inning but still managed to score a pair of runs on two sacrifice ground outs. The missed opportunity for a bigger inning came back and bit the O’s almost immediately with the Mariners scoring two runs in the seventh to retake the lead.

Miguel Castro replaced Andrew Cashner after the Orioles starter gave up three runs through six innings of work. Castro put himself in a jam by loading the bases to start the inning. A wild pitch allowed the first run to score and Mitch Haniger followed that up with a sacrifice fly to make it a 5-3 game.

Just like the O’s in the previous inning, the Mariners left some potential insurance runs on base but the necessary damage had already been done. Tanner Scott replaced Castro out of the pen and picked up a pair of strikeouts with the bases loaded to end the inning.

The Orioles offense failed to reach base in the final three innings as the Mariners bullpen made quick work of their lineup. Only 39 pitches were needed to retire the last nine Orioles hitters.

Game 2 (3-2 SEA):  Tuesday night saw another back-and-forth contest. This time the Orioles got on the board first when Danny Valencia hit a solo homer in the second inning. However, Kyle Seager responded by sending one deep to right field in the fourth.

The score would remain tied until the sixth inning when the O’s pushed a second run across. Unfortunately the inning played out very similar to the sixth inning of Monday’s game. The O’s opened up the inning by loading the bases but when Machado grounded into a double play, the momentum was killed instantly. The go-ahead run looks nice in the box score but there was some controversy surrounding the play since Machado did not run down the first baseline in an attempt to beat the relay throw.

The crowd responded by booing and Machado later apologized after the game. Whether Machado beats that throw or not, it doesn’t change the fact that the O’s offense has failed to cash in on some golden opportunities with these bases loaded situations.

This would become clearly evident once again when the Mariners mounted a small comeback in the eighth. With two runners on base, Seager got the best of the O’s pitching staff again with a two-RBI single to make it a 3-2 game. Seattle went on to close out the last two innings and walk away with another close win.

Darren O’Day was credited with both runs after putting them on base to start the inning. However, O’Day had to be replaced by Scott after re-aggrevating a hamstring injury during the second at bat of the inning. Jean Segura laid down a bunt toward the third base side of the mound but O’Day was not able to field it after taking a few steps and then slowing down with a limp.

After the game manager Buck Showalter spoke on the play and O’Day has been placed on the 10-day disabled list since. This is a huge loss for the Orioles who already had to watch their best reliever, Richard Bleier, go down with a season-ending lat tear a few weeks ago.

Game 3 (8-7 SEA): Wednesday’s game started and ended the same way as Tuesday’s game. Valencia struck first with a two-run homer in the first inning but the Mariners ended up coming out on top with a late inning comeback.

Seattle managed to tie the game up 2-2 in the third but Trumbo quickly put the O’s back on top with an RBI single in the bottom half of the inning. A second run scored on the play after a throwing error by Span and the Orioles had a 4-2 lead.

The Mariners would take it back in the fifth by jumping on the ever-inconsistent Alex Cobb. Seattle loaded the bases with just one out and later cashed in with a pair of runs via sacrifice fly and RBI single. The rough outing marked the seventh start this season where Cobb has surrendered at least five runs.

The score would remain 5-4 until the eighth inning when the Orioles got the best of Seattle reliever Alex Colome. Machado and Valencia led off the inning with a pair of first-pitch singles. However, the momentum slowed down significantly when Trumbo lined out and Schoop grounded into a fielder’s choice.

With runners on the corners, Davis came to the plate and worked himself in a favorable 3-1 count. Colome let his next pitch hang over the middle of the plate and Davis got all of it. The ball sailed down the right field line and landed on Eutaw street to give the Orioles a 7-5 lead going into the final inning.

In typical Orioles fashion, this would not be enough for a win. Zach Britton came in for the ninth and proceeded to throw away a late lead for the second time in a week. Haniger led off the ninth with a single and Seager followed with a two-run homer to tie the game up. The Mariners’ third baseman would go on to finish the four-game series with five hits and five RBI despite not starting on Thursday.

Britton did manage to close out the inning without surrendering the lead but the Orioles would end up losing in 11 innings. Span made up for his throwing error earlier in the game by driving in the go-ahead run in the eleventh.

Game 4 (4-2 SEA): With the first three games of the series all feeling like carbon copies of each other, it’s fitting that Thursday afternoon’s finale was another closely contested extra inning game.

With Dylan Bundy hitting the disabled list earlier this week, the O’s turned to Jimmy Yacabonis to make a spot start. The 26-year-old pitcher made his debut with the Orioles last season but didn’t appear in too many games. None the less, Yacabonis made a decent impression with a 4.35 ERA in a little over 20 innings of relief. However, that did not carry over into 2018 with Yacabonis struggling at the major league level so far this season.

Through the first three innings it looked like Yacabonis had a good grasp on the game. The Seattle lineup had proven deadly so far in the series but the young starter gave up just two hits while striking out four in the early innings. Yacabonis would get a rude awakening in the fourth, though.

After giving up a lead off walk to Haniger, Yacabonis fell victim to Nelson Cruz. The veteran slugger didn’t waste any time sending a fastball to right center field. Valencia made an attempt to snag the ball before it could get out, but Cruz’s towering shot came down fast and dropped just over the reach of Valencia for a two-run homer.

Yacabonis regrouped and finished off the fourth but his afternoon would come to an end in the next inning after giving up a pair of singles. With the O’s offense immediately responding in the bottom of the fourth, Buck was quick to pull his starter and go to the pen with the game tied 2-2. Solo home runs by Machado and Davis quickly erased the lead created by Cruz’s two-run blast.

Yefry Ramirez entered the game out of the pen and proceeded to turn in an amazing relief effort. Ramirez made a spot start a few weeks ago against Boston but did not fare very well against the Red Sox potent lineup. He made up for that on Thursday by tossing five scoreless innings of relief. Ramirez was outstanding and made quick work of the Mariners by getting 15 outs with just 52 pitches.

The Orioles offense could not take advantage of Ramirez’s impressive relief appearance and the two teams went to extra innings for the second day in a row. Once again the Mariners came out victorious thanks to their speed at the top of the order. Gordon led off the tenth with an infield single and Segura followed with a single to center field. Gordon got a great jump and was able to round second with ease but an error by Colby Rasmus allowed the speedy second baseman to keep going and head home for the go-ahead run.

Cruz added an insurance run later in the inning with an RBI single and the Mariners went on to close out another narrow win over the O’s and complete the four-game sweep. After their rallies in games three and four, Seattle is now 8-0 on the year in games that go to extra innings.

Image credit: Patrick Semansky / Associated Press

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