Written by Bruce Smith
The Orioles beat the Mariners 2-1 on Friday night in the 2nd game of the four game weekend series in Seattle. Kevin Gausman gave up 1 run over 6.2 innings, the relievers continued to pitch well, and the leading home run team in the major leagues got two more home runs in spacious Safeco Field.
Nelson Cruz hit a vicious line drive that became a home run to get the Orioles on the board against Felix Hernandez in the 2nd inning. It was the only run the Orioles managed on the night against the best pitcher in the American League. The Orioles next scored in the 10th when Chris Davis hit yet another timely home run to win the game.
The Orioles are in the midst of their most difficult road trip of the year, a 10 game West coast swing against Oakland, Anaheim, and Seattle. The Birds are 5-3 and guaranteed no worse than a .500 road trip. With the win the Orioles are 57-45, a season high 12 games over .500, and in first place by 3 games over the resilient Yankees with 60 games left in the season.
Kevin Gausman had a rough outing in Oakland to start the second half. He struggled to command the edges of the zone in that start which led to too many pitches and too many hitters’ counts. Tonight, Gausman still threw too many balls and didn’t have his best command. However, he wasn’t facing nearly the same caliber offense so his overwhelming stuff and a gritty attitude was enough to get him through the effort with good results.
Gausman’s final line was 6.2 IP, 7 hits, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 103 pitches, 58 strikes, and the no decision. It wasn’t a great start, but Gausman was mentally strong throughout the game despite a lot of runners on base. He threw a lot of good pitches that were just off the plate, but it seems clear to me that the competition has decided to take borderline pitches early in the count in an effort to mitigate Gausman’s outstanding raw stuff. Games like tonight help Kevin learn his craft while he helps the Orioles win an important game in a pennant.
Brian Matusz came on in the 7th inning with runners on 1st and 2nd. The Mariners immediately substituted a right handed hitter, but Matusz got a routine fly ball on a series of nice pitches. Matusz ended up recording 5 outs including 3 strikeouts. Matusz demonstrated a sharper break on his slider for the second straight outing and a couple extra miles an hour on the fastball. However, his location was still very poor. He would have been lit up if any of a half dozen high breaking balls had been just a bit lower in my humble opinion. In the end, it was an effective outing over three important innings in the game.
Darren O’Day pitched to two hitters in the bottom of the ninth and struck them both out. The man is just nails for this team day-after-day. This was his 13th consecutive scoreless outing.
Once the Orioles got the lead in the top of the 10th inning, Zach Britton came in to get the save. Britton was again throwing very hard as his first couple pitches registered 97 and 96 mph. He recorded three routine outs and continues to perform admirably in the closer role.
I can discuss all the Orioles hits in detail because the Orioles managed only six on the night. Adam Jones hit a hard grounder up the middle with two outs in the 1st inning. He was then called out attempting to steal to end the first. I am fairly sure Jones was tagged late and should have been called safe, but it was one of those plays where there wasn’t a definitive camera angle available to reverse the call so Buck didn’t waste his challenge in the 1st inning.
Nelson Cruz led off the 2nd inning with a line drive double, err, home run. It was a vicious line drive that was so low it honestly didn’t occur to me it could be a home run, but Nelson get great backspin on the ball and the man is just really strong. It flew over left field fence to give the Orioles an early 1-0 lead.
Caleb Joseph led off the 3rd inning with a double over the left fielder’s head in left. It was a nice shot off a changeup in the middle of the zone. Joseph continues to improve at the plate and may be carving out a nice future for himself in the majors with all around nice place.
Nick Markakis just missed a home run when he hit a long drive off the 380 sign in right-center field in the 6th inning. He ended up with a double with one out, but the Orioles were unable to get him home.
JJ Hardy got a hit that wasn’t in the 7th inning when Brad Miller was unable to transfer from the glove to the throw effectively on a slow roller to short. It should have been an error and the Orioles’ color man, Jim Palmer, made it a point to say so.
The Orioles didn’t get another hit until the 10th inning when Chris Davis led off the inning against lefty Charlie Furbush with a long home run to right. Furbush got up on Chris quickly but then hung a slider. Davis continues to hit some funny home runs as he just flicked the ball to right yet it landed 15-20 rows over the fence in the spacious ballpark.
Steve Pierce threw out Endy Chavez at home to end the fifth inning. It was a nice throw, but Chavez was out by over 30 feet and the out left Robinson Cano watching from the on deck circle rather than hitting with runners on 1st and 3rd.
The Mariners scored in the 6th inning on a triple by Cano followed by a sacrifice fly, but Markakis just missed great defensive plays on both balls. Cano hit a long high drive deep in the right field corner. Markakis was playing the alley because Cano hits the ball everywhere so he had to run forever, but he managed to get to the corner just as the ball came down. Unfortunately, Nick was unable to flag the ball on the dead run approaching the fence in the corner so Cano ended up on third with a triple. The next hitter hit a line drive to Nick in right. He threw an absolute bullet home on a line and just missed a sliding Cano. Both plays were impressive, but what was even more impressive was how upset Nick was that he didn’t make one of the plays. He was absolutely fuming in right field. It is so obvious how much this team cares about playing the game the right way.
Key Moments In The Game
Gausman got big outs with runners on third base to end the 1st, 3rd, and 4th innings.
Brad Miller was hit by a Chavez grounder into right field just before Pierce threw out Chavez at home to end the 5th inning. The Mariners would have had runners on 1st and 3rd with one out if the batted ball didn’t hit Miller. The entire inning would have gone differently, but the Mariners gave the Orioles back-to-back outs.
The Chris Davis home run basically ended the game in the 10th.
Machado sat out his fourth straight game with back spasms but is expected to play tomorrow night.
The Orioles are 10-3 on the season in extra innings game.
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