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  • Apr

    Orioles face Elimination Joe - lose 6-to-2

    Written by Mike Laws

    An eminently forgettable affair

    Britton rusty in 2013 debut; Saunders dampens O’s offense in Seattle

    Orioles 2, Seattle 6


    At least it was quick. And so will this recap be. Because, unless you’ve got some kind of weird fetish for routine grounders to second and short — in which case Monday night’s series-opening loss to Joe Saunders and the Mariners was your own personal nirvana — there just isn’t all that much to talk about.


    Right, then. Macht schnell mit der bullet points!


    • OK, I’ll use this space to get all the hackneyed “Think Saunders wanted to make his former team pay for not re-signing him?” stuff out of my system. There, done. Fact is, it’s a facile way of looking at things. Makes for a tidy headline, but as they say in Saunders’s native Old Dominion, that dog won’t hunt. Yes, Saunders was very good Monday night. But no, I don’t think it has all that much to do with retribution. Hell, he was only an Oriole for, what, like a month and a half? Are we saying that against every other team he faces (save, perhaps, the Angels and Diamondbacks, where he spent a great deal more time than he did in our beloved Charm City) Saunders throttles back, storing up his best stuff to deploy against the Orioles like so many acorns in a chipmunk’s cheeks? Naw. The seasoned lefty just had one of his “on” nights — better, even, than his five and two-thirds against Texas in last year’s wildcard play-in, or his five and two-thirds against the Yankees in game four of the ALDS (without which, incidentally, O’s fans likely wouldn’t have the “See? Should’ve paid him his money!” reaction). When all was said and done Saunders, in spinning a complete game that required a meager two hours and twelve minutes to complete, had thrown 105 pitches, walking one and striking out a pair, scattering four hits among fully seventeen groundball outs, most of them to short or second, where Brendan Ryan and Robert Andino, respectively, enjoyed an evening of de facto infield practice. (And I won’t even start with the whole Andino=vengeance angle.) The only real mistake Saunders made all night was leaving a fastball up and out over the plate to a right-side-hitting Matt Wieters, following a Chris Davis single the other way in the Oriole fourth. Wieters crushed the offering to left, staking the Orioles to what was to be an incredibly short-lived 2-1 lead. After that, Saunders didn’t allow another baserunner all night, retiring his final sixteen hitters … 


    • … And Baltimore starter Zach Britton just wasn’t up to that kind of challenge. Having been greeted rudely in his 2013 debut — the game’s other Saunders, Seattle leadoff man and center fielder Michael, took Britton’s second pitch of the night out of spacious Safeco Field to right-center — the 25-year-old Oriole southpaw enjoyed a nice couple of bounce-back frames before faltering in the fourth while trying to preserve that 2-1 lead. A leadoff single, a walk and a Jason Bay double, and this thing was tied up again. An Andino liner into right and it was quickly untied. But the Mariners would save the real damage for the sixth, when Britton, visibly tiring (not to mention that he simply hadn’t been that sharp all night, failing to locate with any real precision, and leaving pitches up), yielded a pair of singles to start the inning off; an Andino sacrifice moved the runners to second and third. Then the light-hitting Ryan singled in a run, M. Saunders bounced into a run-scoring fielder’s choice to second and — the coup de grâce — Kyle Seager swatted a triple down the right-field line to plate Saunders. 6-2, M’s, which is how it’d stay until that all-too-quickly-arrived-at conclusion.

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