Jones’ homer in eighth inning lifts Orioles over M’s
SEATTLE – Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik huddled behind closed doors with manager Eric Wedge after the latest defeat in which the offense failed to show up.
Moments earlier, an impatient-sounding Wedge answered media questions about his struggling left fielders and others by suggesting that sometimes a hitter has to get “extreme” to change slumping fortunes. The question after a 2-1 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Wednesday is whether the Mariners plan more extreme steps to deal with left field and other black holes that have cropped up throughout the lineup.
Though the loss was only the third in 14 games for Seattle, the overall offensive performance is so alarming that a call-up of red-hot Triple-A slugger Mike Carp might be inevitable.
“We need to be better,” Wedge said of left field. “You’re going to be patient, but there’s also a line with that. What I want to see is progress, like I’ve talked to you about before. Making good outs, pushing forward, making some adjustments. Whether it be mechanically, mentally, whatever it may be.
“And I think that’s where we’ve got a few guys here that need to be doing better.”
Michael Saunders got the left-field start in this one and went 0 for 3 with two popouts. Boos from the announced crowd of 18,036 at Safeco Field greeted him after the latter of those in the eighth inning. Saunders is hitting just .168, while fellow left-handed outfielder Carlos Peguero is at .169.
Carp has a 17-game hitting streak in Triple-A to go with a .325 batting average and 14 home runs while primarily playing left field in recent weeks. The Mariners are also keeping a close eye on Greg Halman, who is a better outfielder and has some impressive stats while hitting .258 after returning a week ago from a broken hand.
The lack of offense ruined another quality start by Michael Pineda, who pitched seven innings and allowed one run on J.J. Hardy’s second-inning solo homer. Seattle tied it in the bottom of the second, when Miguel Olivo scored on a single by Jack Wilson, barreling into Orioles catcher Matt Wieters as he crossed the plate.
But that was it for Seattle, which had only five hits.Adam Jones, traded to Baltimore three years ago in a multiplayer package for Erik Bedard, stole the show from there. Jones made a sensational, over-the-shoulder catch to rob Olivo of at least a leadoff double in the fourth, tumbling into the wall afterward. Then Jones drilled a Jamey Wright pitch into the second deck in left field to snap a 1-1 tie in the eighth.
Wright was beating himself up afterward over throwing “a sinker that didn’t sink” to Jones, ending an outstanding run by Seattle’s late relievers.
“I was just thinking, ‘Throw one down, nice and easy,’ ” Wright said. “Right when I said, ‘Nice and easy,’ I took a little bit off of it. I can’t even remember the last time I did that. It just flattened out, right into his barrel.”
The game had been lost much earlier. Orioles starter Brian Matusz, making his season debut after an injury in spring training, allowed more broken bats than hits over 5 2/3 innings.
“If we can get some things going off somebody like (C.C.) Sabathia, or somebody who’s a household name – no disrespect to Matusz, but it’s frustrating,” said Mariners shortstop Brendan Ryan, whose 11-game hitting streak ended. “At the same time, you tip your hat because not many pitches were over the heart of the plate.”
Except for Justin Smoak’s three-run homer in the eighth Tuesday, the Mariners scored just one run in over the final 22 innings of the series.