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M's take three of four from worst team in MLB, retain semblance of self-esteem

If only the Mariners could face Baltimore pitching every day.

The Orioles, whose team ERA (5.76) is the only one in the Majors worse than Seattle's, were hammered for 32 runs in the four-game set, including eight homers. All Mariner starters had hits in the series save Tom Murphy, who started only one game. It was an especially good series for Seattle shortstop J.P. Crawford, who went 8-for-16 with a double, a home run, and six RBI to raise his overall season line to .300/.377/.450.

The Orioles got out to a quick 2-0 lead on Thursday night, as Seattle again used the "opener" method of digging themselves a hole. Tayler Scott, since demoted to Triple-A, started that game and lasted just 23 of an inning, walking three. "Headliner" Wade LeBlanc then cleaned up the remains of Scott's mess and threw shutout ball through the seventh inning, once more illustrating the folly of using an "opener." By the time LeBlanc was done, the Mariners had taken a 4-2 lead on five sixth-inning hits; they'd tack on one more for good measure when Baltimore reliever Paul Fry issued a bases-loaded walk to Kyle Seager for the final tally of 5-2. The bullpen was terrific, with Austin Adams and Roenis Elías each throwing a 1-2-3 inning to close it out.

Friday night started out looking bleak, as Mike Leake had his monthly off-the-rails start. Leake served up three runs in the first inning, settled down for a while, then coughed up five more before leaving the game. However, he still got the win—the 100th of his career—thanks to the Mariner bats putting eight of their own on the board through three frames and two more in the fifth. Cory Gearrin would give up one more run to the Orioles before all was said and done, but again Adams and Elías shut things down to end the game cleanly. All that offense included a 3-for-3, two-walk performance by Mallex Smith, who ended up boosting his on-base percentage by 22 points. Smith also stole two bags in the game.

Saturday was turn-back-the-clock day, with both teams wearing throwback jerseys from 1969, the Orioles their own slightly different look of that year and the M's taking on the identity of the Seattle Pilots. The game would have fit right in in '69, as the Orioles (eventual 1969 AL champions) smacked Seattle around (the Pilots finished 64-98 in their only season) for an 8-4 victory that never seemed even that close. Single runs in the eighth and ninth innings—on a home run by Domingo Santana and an RBI-double from Smith—made it a less embarrassing overall result. Still, the commitment to historical accuracy was notable in this retro-look contest.

Knowing a loss would mean a series split with the poor, pitiful Orioles—and so soon after losing a series to the hapless, lousy Kansas City Royals—the M's came out swinging Sunday afternoon and blew Baltimore out of town with a 13-3 drubbing to win a series for just the third time since sweeping the Angels April 18-20. Again Baltimore drew first blood, but their lead only lasted until the bottom of the first inning, when Crawford cracked his second home run of the year to tie it up. The clubs would trade single runs again in the second, but the Mariners broke it open for good in the third with an eight-spot, aided by some sloppy Oriole fielding and worse pitching (three walks and a hit batter along with six hits). Seattle would get three more before all was said and done, giving Yusei Kikuchi plenty of cushion for his fourth victory. Kikuchi was not at his best—he walked five in his six innings—but did notch his eighth quality start. The 'pen again came through, this time with newcomer Matt Carasiti and back-for-another-go-round Mike Wright handling the final three frames without allowing a run.

Sadly, the M's won't see the Orioles and their feckless mound corps again until late September. Instead, the team will have to shift gears as they go on the road to face two of the best teams in baseball in Milwaukee and Houston. Milwaukee sits in second place in a very tight National League Central division, just a half-game back of the Chicago Cubs while Houston, as we well know, is comfortably leading the pack in the American League West.

Mariners vs. Orioles, by the numbers

  • Total runs scored: 54 (SEA 32, BAL 22)
  • Home runs hit: 11 (SEA 9, BAL 2)
  • Bases stolen/attempts: 8/9 (SEA 4 - Smith 3, Crawford; BAL 4)
  • Errors committed: 7 (SEA 3 - Scott, Crawford, Gordon; BAL 4)
  • Quality starts: 2 (SEA 1 - Kikuchi, BAL 1 - Cashner)
  • Pitching changes: 26 (SEA 12, BAL 14)
  • Starters ERA: 9.00 (SEA 7.94, BAL 10.13)
  • Bullpen ERA: 4.50 (SEA 2.84, BAL 6.88)
  • Runners left on base: 56 (SEA 33, BAL 23)
  • Mallex Smith batting average increase: 13 points
  • J.P. Crawford batting average increase: 38 points
  • Domingo Santana strikeouts: 6

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