SEATTLE – Once upon a time, even Jarrod Washburn got a meaningful hit off Rich Hill. That was two years ago during an interleague game against the Cubs at Wrigley Field when Washburn singled and scored Kenji Johjima.
Monday night at Safeco Field, it was a memory that only made the Seattle Mariners cringe.
Hill, now with the Baltimore Orioles, used a sweeping curveball and the Mariners’ lack of patience in a 1-0 victory that had the M’s flailing more effectively in their own frustration than anything the left-hander threw at them.
The Mariners muffed a first-inning gift with a runner on third and nobody out, then managed one more hit the rest of the game. It wasted Washburn’s one-run performance through seven innings and Chris Jakubauskas’ two shutout innings of relief.
“Offensively, it goes back to the same thing we’ve talked about all year – fundamental baseball and not executing when we need to,” manager Don Wakamatsu said.
The Orioles scored their run in a way the Mariners could only envy.
They got a leadoff double from former Mariner Adam Jones in the sixth, moved him to third when Nick Markakis singled and scored him on Aubrey Huff’s sacrifice fly to deep center field.
If converting that opportunity seemed too easy, the Mariners illustrated just how hard it can be – for them, at least – in the bottom of the first inning.
Ichiro Suzuki led off with a double to left field – tying the club-record 25-game hitting streak he set two years ago – and reached third when Orioles left fielder Nolan Reimold made a bad throw back to the infield.
“That was a good way to start, with Ichiro on third and nobody out,” Washburn said. “You’d like to think you’d get a 1-0 lead right there.”
Not this time.
Hill, a 6-foot-5 lefty with a 6.14 ERA and a bigger curveball, had the Mariners flailing at that yacker the rest of the night.
Yuniesky Betancourt popped up to second base.
Adrian Beltre struck out.
Mike Sweeney popped out to first base.
The Mariners barely made contact the rest of the game as Hill mixed his 69-mph bender with a fastball that seemed like 109, even though it rarely was faster than 89.
Betancourt had the Mariners’ only other hit, a single he rolled into left field in the fifth inning.
Beltre, who looked helpless in two strikeouts against Hill, squared up a ball in the ninth against closer George Sherrill, another former Mariner, but hit it to the deepest part of the park, where Jones caught it in center field.
Sweeney hit a fly to right that ended the Mariners’ fifth shutout loss this season.
The Mariners are 7-20 when they’ve scored less than four runs, and this one hurt as badly as any, especially with Washburn pitching so well.
“We’re a lot better than this,” said Sweeney, who went 0 for 4 and is batting .230. “When you get Ichi on third with nobody out, you’ve got to try to get him in somehow. We didn’t get it done, me included. It definitely set the tone.
“The scoreboard didn’t show it, but we do care in here a lot. It’s definitely not lack of effort or lack of heart.”
It was lack of something, however, and Wakamatsu put his finger on it rather bluntly.
“It was a lack of patience and really a lack of adjustments,” he said. “The whole tempo of the game was set in that first inning.”
Wakamatsu didn’t buy the theory that unfamiliarity bred this beast because five of the Mariners had never faced Hill.
“We’ve preached all year getting a pitch that you can handle. It doesn’t matter who’s attached to it, obviously,” Wakamatsu said. “When you swing at a ball over your head or outside the zone, it’s hard to hit for a high average.”
Orioles 1, Mariners 0
E—Reimold (1), Y.Betancourt (9). LOB—Baltimore 6, Seattle 4. 2B—Ad.Jones (14), I.Suzuki (9). RBIs—A.Huff (39). SF—A.Huff. RLSP—Baltimore 2 (C.Izturis, Scott); Seattle 2 (M.Sweeney 2). GIDP—A.Huff, C.Izturis, Jo.Lopez. DP—Baltimore 1 (B.Roberts, C.Izturis, A.Huff); Seattle 2 (Jo.Lopez, Y.Betancourt, Branyan), (Branyan, Y.Betancourt, Branyan).
|R.Hill W, 2-0||7||2||0||0||3||7||106||4.15|
|Ji.Johnson H, 9||1||0||0||0||0||2||10||3.04|
|Sherrill S, 11-13||1||0||0||0||0||0||11||2.49|
|Washburn L, 3-4||7||6||1||1||1||3||102||3.22|
T—2:13. A—16,979 (47,878).