Something seemed amiss on Monday night at Safeco Field. Yes, the Seattle Mariners have had their fair share of relatively nondescript pitchers have season-best outings against them.
Names such as Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, Matt Cain, Vicente Padilla all have had one thing in common – they are right-handed, sinkerball-type pitchers.
Baltimore’s Rich Hill is a little different since he’s a lanky left-hander who relies mostly on a sweeping breaking ball.
Yet when the Mariners’ bats are cold, it doesn’t seem to matter who’s throwing, what arm they are throwing it with or how fast it gets there.
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So Hill – who came in with a 6.37 ERA and was fresh off giving up seven runs in three innings against Toronto – shut down the Mariners. He held them to two hits over seven innings and struck out seven in Baltimore’s 1-0 win over Seattle.
Hill’s performance outshone a solid effort from Mariners starter Jarrod Washburn, who was almost as good, pitching seven innings and allowing one run on six hits. Seattle’s Chris Jakubauskas was also solid in his first relief stint since being demoted to the bullpen, pitching two hitless innings. Both pitchers gave their teammates every opportunity to tie the game, and yet the Mariners reverted to their wild-swinging-and-missing ways.
“It’s an awful shame to be able squander a pitching performance from Washburn and Jakubauskas where they give one run and six hits against a club and really have nothing to show for it,” Mariners manager Don Wakamatsu said.
He did give Hill his requisite kudos.
“One thing Rich did do really good tonight was throw his curveball any time in the count,” Wakamatsu said.
The complimenting stopped shortly thereafter.
Wakamatsu chided his own team for reverting to its same bad habits, which clearly irked him.
“Offensively, it goes back to the same thing we’ve talked about all year – fundamental baseball and not executing when we need to,” he said.
And the patient approach at the plate he wants, well that was pretty much nonexistent too.
“We chased a lot of pitches, and had a lack of patience and really a lack of adjustments,” Wakamatsu said.
There was no better example than in the first inning.
Ichiro Suzuki led off with a double to the gap – probably the hardest ball hit by the Mariners all night. And then he took advantage of a throwing error by left fielder Nolan Reimold to advance to third.
The hit extended Ichiro’s hitting streak to 25 games, tying a career record which he set in 2007.
With Ichiro at third and no outs, the Mariners seemed set to give Washburn an early lead. But Yuniesky Betancourt popped up to second, Adrian Beltre struck out and Mike Sweeney also popped up to end the inning.
“We have to try to get him somehow,” Sweeney said. “Obviously, we didn’t get it done, me included.”
And from there the frustration with their lack of production visibly grew.
“It’s a recurring theme where we do get a guy in that situation we do get overaggressive,” Wakamatsu aid. “Really the whole tempo of the game is set when you don’t get that run.”
He’ll get no arguments from his players.
“We make it tough on ourselves,” said Wladimir Balentien, who was 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. “We try to do too much and you don’t get results when you do that.”
Missed opportunities, particularly easy ones, for an offensively challenged team like the Mariners are killers.
Seattle would never threaten again, getting just one hit and a couple of walks the rest of the way. And it wasn’t until the ninth inning when a player hit a ball even as close to as hard as Ichiro’s first-inning double.
“We had two hits all game, when you swing the bat like that you aren’t going to win many games,” Sweeney said.
The Orioles’ lone run came in the sixth when Adam Jones hit a ball over Balentien’s head in left and got a hustling double. Nick Markakis followed with a single to center to move him to third.
“I should have made a better pitch to Markakis,” Washburn said. “I’ve been nails against lefties all year and I didn’t do the job. If I make a better pitch there, we’re still playing.”
With the Mariners’ offensive issues, that’s debatable. With Jones on third, Aubrey Huff lifted a fly ball to center to score Jones on a sacrifice fly. It was one run, and all the Orioles needed.
“It feels like we are letting down Wak, the organization, the fans and most importantly each other, because we’re a lot better than this,” Sweeney said.
Catcher Rob Johnson fouled a ball hard off the inside of his left shin. He had been hit with a bat in the same spot last week. He was clearly in pain, but stayed in the game. Johnson was sporting a large bruise on his calf. … Ryan Rowland-Smith’s return to the rotation is nearing completion. The big left-hander will throw a bullpen session today and then pitch in another rehab start for the Tacoma Rainiers on Friday against the Reno Aces at Cheney Stadium. Wakamatsu then has him slated to start on June 11 in Baltimore. … Reliever Roy Corcoran, who has been sidelined with a sore neck, will throw a simulated game today.
Left-hander Erik Bedard (3-2, 2.48 ERA) will get the start for the Mariners today, while Baltimore will send right-hander David Hernandez (1-0, 1.59 ERA) to the mound. First pitch is set for 7:10 p.m. The game will be broadcast on FSN and 710-AM.
Ryan Divish: 253-597-8483