The Mariners once more show they can compete with a top ballclub, but lose 6-4 to the Orioles in 10 innings at Camden Yards.
So close, but yet so far. After two consecutive dominating performances, the Mariners fell in heartbreaking fashion to the Orioles on Saturday afternoon.
The Mariners’ bats were not as hot as the previous two games. However, in reality it was the pitching which was more at fault, in a 6-4 extra innings loss at Camden Yards.
Bryce Miller has been arguably better than expected, since coming into the rotation. Unfortunately for the Mariners however, Saturday proved to be a poor outing, in what was his second-shortest start of the season.
No Miller Time for Mariners
Miller’s biggest issue on the day was controlling his location, highlighted by tying a career-high with three walks. He also threw first-pitch strikes to only half of the 20 batters he faced.
In addition, the 24-year-old was compromised by a velocity which progressively dipped during his outing. Overall, he gave up six hits and three earned runs in 4.1 innings, while striking out four.
Miller was quite self-critical about his performance. Speaking to the media after the game, he said:
“There (were) a lot of long at-bats and some tough at-bats. It doesn’t help whenever I walk three guys also. Today was one of those days where I was falling behind and they were relatively patient. You’ve got to get ahead. It just makes everything way easier.”
Despite Miller’s struggles, the offense kept the Mariners in the game. After they fell behind 1-0 early, Mike Ford tied things up with a solo blast in the top of the third.
J.P. Crawford then repeated the trick, to give Seattle a 2-1 lead in the same inning. The shortstop had two hits on the day in the leadoff spot, in his first game back from a bruised right shoulder.
Due to Miller’s issues the Orioles came back to regain the lead, at 3-2 after five innings. The Mariners responded again, this time through the rejuvenated Julio Rodriguez.
All of J-Rod’s talents on display
Rodriguez became the third Mariners to hit a solo home run and tie the game once more, at 3-3. It was his 13th home run, on a day when he led his team with three hits.
The 22-year-old also had his 17th steal of the season. Despite having a poorer slash line compared to last year, he is on course to set new single-season highs for hits and RBI, as well as walks, steals and runs.
On top of everything else, Rodriguez also kept the Mariners from falling further behind, after Baltimore had retaken the lead at 4-3. His tremendous well-timed jump at the wall in the bottom of the seventh prevented a certain home run.
The 2022 AL Rookie of the Year gave his take on the catch. He said:
“I knew I had it the whole time, I just didn’t think that it was going to go so far. I definitely was looking forward to that.”
Mariners manager Scott Servais continues to be impressed with the young budding superstar. He said:
“Julio had a really good game today. Even though we scored a lot of runs last night, he was in here early today, working on a few things with our hitting coaches. He was on it most of the day, and then made a fantastic catch. This ballpark has a tendency of producing some of those catches, and he got a good one.”
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Ford comes through in the clutch
With the Mariners staring defeat in the face, Ford stepped up in the top of the ninth with his second homer of the day. It is the third time in his career he’s had two-home runs in a game, but the second time this month.
The 30-year-old talked about his second homer, which came against the imposing figure of Felix Bautista. He said:
“He’s really big, but I was just kind of focusing on his release point. Getting a good swing off was my objective. I was looking fastball and it just happened to be middle-middle.”
Servais was full of praise for Ford. He said:
“Awesome day by Mike Ford. He can’t get any more clutch that that, off one of the best relievers in the league.”
Ultimately though, it would all be for nothing. Ryan McKenna’s walk-off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th resulted in a frustrating 6-4 loss.
Servais knows how close his team was to winning on Saturday and couldn’t fault the effort. He said:
“In my opinion, we played clean. We did all the things that are customary for us to do and to keep you in a game, and all of a sudden you get a big hit late. We just needed one more big hit today. We didn’t get it, but our guys are competing.”
George Kirby will be on the mound for the rubber match, looking to win the game and the series. The Mariners are 3.5 games back of a wild card spot, and a victory would once more return them to .500.
How has the series in Baltimore influenced your opinion of the Mariners’ playoff hopes? Has it convinced you they still have a genuine chance, or confirmed to you this is an inconsistent team which will fall short? Let us know in the comments section below.