Mariners Can’t Rally For Walker in 5-2 Loss

May 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker (44) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports
May 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Seattle Mariners pitcher Taijuan Walker (44) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports /

2. 62. 5. 11. Final

The Seattle Mariners came up short on Wednesday night, losing 5-2 against the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards.

Taijuan Walker was looking to bounce back from one of the worst innings of his career in his last start. Before he was taken out from his last game against the Tampa Bay Rays in the sixth inning, he allowed 3 walks, a double, a single and a grand slam, and that was in his final frame. Coming into tonight’s game against arguably the hottest hitting team in the American League besides his Mariners, Taijuan needed a bounce back outing that was more similar to this impressive start to the young season.

A lead off single to Joey Rickard was not the way to ease the nerves of his teammates, but Leonys Martin had his back by sprinting through center-field all the way to the base of the way to make a near home run saving blast. However once the second inning came around defense could be of no help to the young right-hander.

The American League leading home run hitting team, the Baltimore Orioles were tired of going through their longest run-less streak of the season (14 innings) and just as they have six previous times this year, the O’s took Taijuan deep- once to left from Mark Trumbo and then to right from Matt Weiters. With the homers, Taijuan had now given up three dingers in his last three innings going back to the duel versus the Rays.

Taijuan owed Martin a hug, this time because of his batting prowess. The Cuban born center fielder fought back with a home run of his own- only the second given up by Chris Tillman on the season- to cut the O’s lead in half to 2-1. Tillman who was on the mound for the Orioles this night, didn’t let this minor blemish get in the way of his otherwise decent start to the game. Most importantly for him- and unfortunately for the Mariners- he was holding Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz to 0-3 with two strikeouts through three innings. A much different story from last night when the duo went 6-7 with seven combined RBI’s and scored five runs.

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A lead-off double in the fourth by Cruz broke the 0-fer for the dynamic heart of the Mariners’ lineup, backing up Walker who looked as if he was settling down, cruising through birds in order. Patience by another Mariner star, Kyle Seager, led to a Tillman walk- Seagar’s second of the night- putting runners on first and second, all with no one out. After a fielders’ choice by Adam Lind, Chris Iannetta delivered via a sacrifice fly, knotting the game at 2-2.

The combination of Trumbo and Weiters came up big again in the fourth, the former with a hard-hit single straight up the middle and the later with a screeching double (almost caught by Martin) that brought the former Mariner home from first. Yet, once more Walker was saved by great fielding by Nori Aoki in left field, including a flashy sliding grab to end the inning with Weiters stranded on second. However it was the Orioles studs tonight that were having the big night; through five, Trumbo and Weiters were 4-4 with two homers, 3 RBIs, sounds much like the stat line of the Mariner stars on Tuesday night.

This time around it was the fifth inning the cursed Walker. A single, an error (by Walker) two walks and a wild pitch- the first of the season for Taijuan- brought in one more run, now doubling the Mariner run total before he escaped. Manager Scott Servais watched anxiously as Walker stumbled through one more frame; the pitchers last six innings have been very uneven, unpredictable and out of control enough to be replaced in the next frame by Mike Montgomery.

With pitching changes in place the M’s still had to overcome their small deficit, but Adam Jones would have no part of that, robbing Cano at the edge of the wall, just as he had been, chasing down what would have been Cano’s eleventh double on the year. Notably, Seagar drew his third walk in as many tries in the same frame but was left on base. The absence of runs was not a welcomed sight for Montgomery though who gave up a walk, a hit by pitch, and a single, but he too was rescued with the bases loaded and avoided a knockout blow due to an inning-ending double play.

There wasn’t much to cheer about, despite keeping the game in reach because the Orioles brought in their relief pitching to finish the final third of the game. Unfortunately for the Mariners, the O’s bullpen is the best in the league, many of them holding ERAs under 2.00. While the team as whole did put up four runs on the nearly impenetrable pen last night, Brad Brach was the first to mow through the M’s lineup, fanning the first two batters he faced to end the top of the 7th.

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The eighth for Brach was more of what Mariner fans had seen yesterday. The heart of the order attacked the set-up man with a double from Cano, a walk from Cruz and a single for Seager. The unusual pitching forced the hand of the Oriole skipper, Buck Showalter to bring in his closer, Zach Britton, for an abnormal five-out close; and it was working through the eighth as he got out of the bases loaded jam unscathed. Coincidentally, Britton’s last five out close came last year in August against these Mariners.

Ketel Marte smoked a lead-off double right down the left field line to start one more rally in the top of the ninth. It was the fourth inning of the night in which the Mariners had put at least one (but often two) batters in scoring position with nothing to show for it. Britton looked unshaken after his early inning fault, taking care of the next three Mariners in order to cap off the great outings for the Oriole pitching in the 5-2 Mariner loss.

Next: Kyle Seager is Back, and it’s Beautiful!

The Mariners remain in first place with Texas going through a mini-slide at the moment. Tomorrow at 9:35 PST these two teams will face off in a rubber match to decide who will be the better first place team in their respective divisions.