My original plan for this series with the Orioles was to go to all four games; but between money restrictions and actually having the time (work, sleep, life in general), I am only going to make it to one this year, tomorrow’s Fireworks Night. I may try to squeeze out a few dollars to hit Sunday’s game, but right now things aren’t looking great. Tomorrow night, Wade LeBlanc will be up against Kevin Gausman in what will be my second Friday in a row with Wade LeBlanc. Wilson gave up five runs to the Ms the last time he faced them in Baltimore, so while this is a series that I’m never super serious about, it might be nice to see the Mariners rough him up again. In a four-game series against my second favorite team, it’d be ideal to split it; the Orioles are pretty securely sat in first place in the East right now, maybe they can spare us a few games? I guess we’ll see; the Mariners have a little momentum at home lately, perhaps that will translate to an aggressive series. Tonight it’s Taijuan Walker and Chris Tillman.
As far as the Birds are concerned, I was just thinking this morning, it’s been nice to watch Jonathan Schoop make a name for himself over there. I was in Camden at the beginning of his debut year in 2014, and my initial impression of him was that he was a decent hitter and really fast on the basepaths. Clearly, the O’s haven’t given up on him yet; and with his 1.8 WAR and .301/.331/.517 line, there is no reason they should. I don’t know what fans in Camden think of him, but I like him a great deal – maybe my second favorite position player on their roster (Adam Jones may always be my favorite, generally speaking). Manny Machado a close third.
The Mariners have recalled catcher Mike Zunino today, much to my delight, and I am hoping for the best for him. It’s slightly problematic that this was supposed to be a year where he was made good and solid at triple A, but management must have liked what he’s doing down in Tacoma more than Jesus Sucre or the other option, who I believe was Rob Brantley. Fingers crossed for Zuni in a bad way. Also back up is Tom Wilhelmsen. They are replacing Don Roach and poor Steve Clevenger, who apparently broke his hand(!!!) It’s good to see Wilhelmsen back in a Mariners uniform. He might not last long here, but he’s just one of those guys who “belongs” here, if that makes sense.
Walker pitched a good quick first inning, but Chris Tillman struggled, giving, allowing Robinson Cano, Nelson Cruz, and then Kyle Seager to reach base, with the latter driving in a run. Tillman got Dae-Ho Lee out looking, and saved himself any further damage. The top of the 2nd was a little promising for the Orioles with Mark Trumbo slinging a 98MPH fastball right out towards the center field wall; but Leonys Martin was there to save us, grabbing the ball on the back hand and crashing into our nice padded walls. Trumbo is a current home run leader, after being sent to the east from here last year, so it’s nice that Martin was able to keep him grounded.
In the top of the 4th, Manny Machado tried to take more bases than he should have, and was fielded by Leonys Martin, who took his off-the-wall hop, and lasered it to Ketel Marte in the infield. Marte caught Machado a little too far off first, throwing the ball to Dae-Ho Lee, who tagged the runner out easily. OK, maybe it was a little close, but any ump would have called him out. Chris Tillman kept on struggling with the Mariners lineup, allowing two men on with two outs over what seemed an inordinately long time and pretty high in the pitch count. He got Chris Iannetta to fly out to Mark Trumbo in right field to cut the Mariner threat off, but that was with his 81st pitch. To put things in perspective, Taijuan Walker came out of that inning with pitches tallying somewhere in the mid-60s, allowing a Matt Wieters single and very little else (although he did have to battle Jonathan Schoop a little bit).
The bottom of the 5th saw a Seth Smith dinger into the lower right field deck, a powerful swing that drove in both himself and our runner on base (Game Day is broken – I think I need to update Flash, and I looked away for a second to respond to someone on FaceBook about something). This gave the Mariners a 3-0 lead. Robinson Cano shanked a single, and then Nelson Cruz got hold of one that bounced over Trumbo’s head in left field, putting him on second. Tillman opted to walk Kyle Seager to get to Dae-Ho Lee. I felt at the time they did it that this was not the best idea the Orioles had; I am sure that with one out, they felt they could make Lee ground into a double play or at least limit any resulting runs with a pop-up. Tillman worked his pitch count to the triple digits with Lee fouling off multiple times before popping a single up into mid-right field, sending Cano home, and forcing a call review at third for Cruz. Cruz was called out, and the call held after review. Orioles manager Buck Showalter decided enough was enough, and headed to the mound to replace Tillman with Dylan Bundy. Bundy took Adam Lind out swinging to end the 5th.
Walker was sitting at 73 pitches at the top of the 7th inning, and still looking as cool and possessed of himself as he did when he started the game. Hyon Soo Kim wasn’t having it, though, and proceeded to put up the Orioles 56th home run for the month of June, breaking an MLB record for homers and putting the Birds on the board, finally. Scott Servais decided that and another runner on were reason enough for Tai to be finished, and went out to replace him with Edwin Diaz after 6.1 innings.
Edwin Diaz is, of course, our shiniest new toy. Topping out at 100MPH frequently enough for it to merit broadcast mention and callback, he threw some alternating pitches at Mark Trumbo, two of which were 86MPH sliders that Trumbo hacked at, to no avail. Matt Wieters got a taste of that slider from the other side of the plate, too, at 89MPH, and went down swinging to tie up the top of the 6th. In the bottom, Nelson Cruz stepped to the plate and launched a pitch over Adam Jones’ head in center field, where it bounced then stuck under the wall and Jones lost sight of it for a few seconds; just enough time for Cruz to dig for and slide into third with plenty of time to spare before Jones could get the ball to Manny Machado for a too-late tag. The Orioles walked Kyle Seager, then Dae-Ho Lee’s bat (literally) exploded an it looked like Seager was out at second, but after a short review, it looked like Schoop’s foot was off the bag and so Cruz got the run. Adam Lind lined out to Hyun Soo Kim, score 5-1 Mariners.
Joaqin Benoit – who made things so interesting last Friday – was called in to deal in the 8th, and walked Jonathan Schoop. Pedro Alvarez went down swinging. On Benoit’s 18th pitch, JJ Hardy made Seth Smith take a bit of a jog to center field, where Smith managed to get a glove on Hardy’s line drive to get the second out. Adam Jones got a single on the 24th pitch. Hyun Soo Kim drove Schoop in, score 5-2, and with two men on and two out, Benoit was removed from the hill, and Steve Cishek replaced him, coming into the game early; a move I never really like.
Cishek gave an RBI single to Machado into right field to create a 5-3 ballgame. Chris Davis and his mouthful of chewing tobacco stepped to the plate and after a brief battle, struck out swinging. Chris Iannetta was up in the bottom of the 8th, and got a single. Ketel Marte executed a perfect bunt at Dylan Bundy and after a hard choice to throw out the runner at second or first, Bundy opted for first and was removed from the hill in exchange for LHP Zach Britton, who is a massive threat to just about any batter he faces. Leonys Martin was his first victim, and the second out of the inning. Pinch hitter Franklin Gutierrez was his last.
Cishek came out for what could be his 19th save, and promptly gave Mark Trumbo a single. Matt Wieters swung hard and missed at his third strike; Cishek was getting a lot of downward movement on his pitches tonight. Jonathan Schoop popped out to first on the outside of the foul line. Cishek took Pedro Alvarez to the full count before tossing one in the dirt that Alvarez swung at and Iannetta managed to hold onto for the final out.
I have to go to bed so I am not going to edit this, you’ll have to forgive me. It was a fun game to watch, and I am looking forward to tomorrow’s game and goodnight, everyone!