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Seattle Mariners

Bryce Miller roughed up in Mariners’ 9-2 loss in Baltimore

Seattle starter Bryce Miller throws against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday in Baltimore.  (Getty Images)
By Adam Jude Seattle Times

BALTIMORE – Side to side, Bryce Miller tends to sway when he walks, like a canoe floating aimlessly down a tepid river.

There’s no pretense about his strides. No bravado, either. It’s just part of his overall vibe that’s best described as Texas chill.

At the end of the first inning Friday night, Miller’s walk from the pitcher’s mound to the visiting dugout seemed especially deliberate. It was slow and unsteady, giving the Mariners right-hander a few extra beats to try to process how things turned on him so sideways so fast.

From the get-go, the Baltimore Orioles’ left-handed-heavy lineup hammered Miller, who surrendered a season-high five runs in the first inning – four before even recording an out – in the Mariners’ 9-2 loss at Camden Yards.

“Definitely not an ideal first inning. I missed a few spots and they put ’em in play, and things happen,” said Miller, who hadn’t allowed a first-inning run in his first eight starts of the season. “I was happy I was able to end up getting into the sixth, but I just got to start better.”

It was a rare clunker from the Mariners (24-21) in the first of 10 games in 10 days on this East Coast trip.

The Orioles (28-14) had 10 hits, six for extra bases.

Gunnar Henderson belted the second fastball Miller threw 402 feet out for his 13th home run – tying the major-league lead – and the first of five hard-hit balls off Miller in the inning.

An infield error and a missed called third strike contributed to the long inning for Miller, who threw 32 first-inning pitches. One of the five runs was unearned.

“They were super aggressive, certainly on the fastball. They were hunting it, and they got some good swings off,” manager Scott Servais said.

Five of the seven balls the Orioles put in play were hard hit – at least 95 mph off the bat – and four had exit velocities greater than 101 mph.

“The fastball is his pitch; we all know that,” Servais said. “He’s got the two different fastballs, (but) they have to be located. And he missed – he missed in some hot zones with some really good left-handed hitters, and they took advantage of it.”

As a rookie last year, Miller struggled against left-handed hitters, who posted a .303 average and a .917 OPS against him. Improving his arsenal against lefties was a priority in the offseason for Miller, who was impressive in his first eight starts – limiting lefties to a .133 average through 90 at-bats coming into Friday.

That changed quickly against the Orioles.

The first five lefties in Baltimore’s lineup reached base – four hits and one walk.

Colton Cowser had a bases-loaded double that hit the chalk down the right-field line, and Orioles third baseman Jordan Westburg hit a sacrifice fly to center off Miller, his childhood friend and classmate at New Braunfels High School outside San Antonio.

“Things didn’t go my way that inning, you know,” Miller said. “I’m still happy with where I’m at against lefties. It’s just, I’ve got to execute a little better on a couple pitches and that first inning very easily could’ve looked way different.”

Trailing 5-1, Miller did settle in to pitch into the sixth. He retired 10 batters in a row at one point and 15 of 16 through the fifth inning.

Miller’s final line: 5⅓ innings, five runs (four earned), six hits, one walk, one strikeout. His one strikeout is a career low in any start.

He got some help in the sixth from Julio Rodriguez, who leaped high at the wall and stole a home run away from Anthony Santander. It was Rodriguez’s second home run robbery at Camden Yards, after stealing one from Ryan O’Hearn here last year.

Seattle’s Dylan Moore had an up-and-down day.

He doubled on the game’s first pitch, then hit a solo homer off Orioles left-hander John Means in the fifth, cutting the Mariners’ deficit to 5-2.

But Moore also made a throwing error in the first and hit into an inning-ending double play in the seventh when the Mariners had two runners on with a chance to cut into the Orioles’ lead.

Baltimore broke it open in the seventh, scoring four runs off Seattle’s bullpen after four consecutive extra-base hits.

Means, in his first start against the Mariners since throwing a no-hitter in Seattle on May 5, 2021, allowed two runs over six innings. He struck out four with no walks.

“It’s tough,” Rodriguez said. “They’re a really good team, and that’s a team that you gotta go out there and battle and expect that they’re gonna fight back. And that’s what happened.”