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Seattle Mariners

Mariners held to three hits by Orioles, head home after losing road trip

Orioles right-fielder Anthony Santander leaps above the fence in right-center to rob the Seattle Mariners' Julio Rodríguez of a home run in the first inning.  (Tribune News Service)
By Ryan Divish Seattle Times

BALTIMORE – A split would’ve been splendid considering how the road trip started with two abysmal losses in New York. But the seemingly neverending inconsistency displayed by the Mariners at the plate, specifically the scouting report that they are susceptible to ‘spin’ – sliders, curveballs and cutters – late in counts has yet to be resolved. And until it does, the end results in game outcomes will be just varied.

Starter Kyle Bradish and relievers Daniel Coulombe and Felix Bautista held the Mariners to a total of three hits, two in the third inning and one in the ninth, while a rare walk from Seattle starter George Kirby would lead to the eventual go-ahead run in a disappointing 3-2 loss to the Orioles.

The Mariners finished an important road trip against two teams ahead of them in American League wild-card standings with a 2-4 record, losing a pair of winnable games to close out the series with Baltimore. The Mariners fall to 37-39 and will head back to Seattle with a six-game, seven-day homestand starting Monday night vs. the Washington Nationals.

“We do have a lot of baseball left,” manager Scott Servais. “Outside of today and getting shut down. I do think we’re trending in the right way offensively and I don’t think he can just throw it in the trash because you have a rough day. You have to stay with it. We have a homestand coming up and we need continue to swing the bats like we did in the middle of this trip because it’s in there. We’re capable of doing it. It just has to be consistent.”

If only words could lead to consistent approaches at the plate, particularly against breaking pitches out of the strike zone. So many words have been relayed to Seattle hitters this season, but they have seemingly remained hollow based on 21/2 months of results. The three hits and five baserunners tied season lows for Seattle. It was the 17th time this season that the Mariners have been held to two runs or fewer. They are 9-25 when scoring three runs or fewer.

Using his slider heavily and mixing in two different varieties of fastballs and a bigger breaking curveball, Bradish pitched strong seven innings, allowing two runs on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts. The Mariners had only five balls in play with exit velocities over 95 mph.

“First time through the lineup, the first couple innings, we had some deep at-bats,” Servais said. “If we continue that, we get him out of the game earlier. To give him credit, he settled in we did not hit a whole lot of balls hard.”

The two hits off him came in the second inning and the two runs came in the second inning with two outs. The Mariners were fortunate to get the runs considering Eugenio Suarez could’ve easily been rung up on a check-swing appeal at first base on a 2-2 pitch. But first base umpire Brian O’Nora ruled that Suarez didn’t go around on the pitch much to the disagreement of the Orioles fans in attendance.

Those same booing fans grew even more heated when Suarez smoked the next pitch off the 376 sign in left-center, missing a homer by just inches and settling for a double.

With the inning extended, Cal Raleigh made the anger at O’Nora grow when he took advantage of a hanging slider from Bradish, crushing it down the right field line.

The missile of a line drive stayed just inside the foul pole and traveled out of the stadium and on to Eutaw Street.

But after Raleigh’s homer, Bradish retired 12 batters in a row before walking Jarred Kelenic with two outs in the seventh. He pitched a season-high seven innings, allowing the two runs on two hits with two walks and seven strikeouts.

“His bread and butter is the breaking pitch,” Servais said. “He’s got a really good sliders, a good curveball. He went to it and got it in the zone enough early and then when two strikes he took it below (the strike zone). It’s one of the better breaking pitches in the league. He did a good job. He’s having a good year. Wish we could have got more pitches on him early and got out him out of the game. You look up and he’s out there in the seventh inning and that’s not a good sign.”

Kirby couldn’t hold the two-run lead. Anthony Santander, who has looked Cooperstown-bound in this series, tied the game in the third inning. Kirby allowed a leadoff double to Jorge Mateo and with two outs Santander golfed a low curveball that was supposed to be in the dirt over the wall in right field for his 14th homer of the season.

Santander hit a homer in every game of the series and had a total of six hits with five RBI.

“George has been solid all year long,” Servais said. “Outside of the one mistake he made to Santander where he didn’t that curveball low enough. We wanted him to bounce that one and he didn’t get it there and he paid the price.”

Kirby’s walk came in the fifth inning, when issued a free pass to Mateo. Irritated at the free pass, Kirby would be incensed about the mistake when No. 9 hitter Anthony Benboom looped a fly ball into right field. With Teoscar Hernandez shifted away from the left field line, second baseman Jose Caballero had the only chance at making the play. But he couldn’t make an over-the-shoulder catch and kicked the ball away from him for an error that allowed Mateo to score from first base. It was Benboom’s first hit of the season.

As he stalked off the field after the third out, it was clear that walk would fester in his mind.

“I was pretty pissed about that,” Kirby said. “I feel like when you walk someone something bad happens. That’s what I stress avoiding walks so much. Stuff happens.”

Kirby still delivered a quality start, pitching 6 1/3 innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on six hits with that walk and four strikeouts. It was the 12th time he’s pitched six-plus innings and allowed three earned runs or fewer this season. The Mariners have won seven of those games. It was the 39th quality start from Seattle’s rotation. The team has a 26-13 record in those outings.