Adam Jones. For the Seattle Mariners, it seems he will always be the mistake that keeps on haunting.
You know the story. Jones was the Mariners’ first-round pick in 2003 and viewed as a likely franchise cornerstone for years to come — until a Feb. 8, 2008 trade sent him to Baltimore.
Jones became everything the Mariners once envisioned, except in a different uniform. A five-time All-Star. And they got to see it up close again Monday night in a 3-2 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Safeco Field.
It wasn’t just Jones.
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The Mariners stacked their lineup with right-handers against Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen and came up empty beyond Franklin Gutierrez’s leadoff homer in the second inning.
“He’s got some life in his fastball,” said right fielder Nelson Cruz, who played behind Chen a year ago as an Oriole. “Guys swing and miss, and it’s like, ‘What’s happening?’
“The ball just explodes from his hand. It takes off. As soon as he lets it go, it’s like, ‘zoom.’ It looks quicker than 94 (mph).”
Chen (6-6) gave up three hits in his 71/3 innings before Zach Britton recorded the final five outs for his 28th save. Britton gave up one run in the ninth but is perfect in his past 24 save opportunities.
But Jones was in the middle of things. His two-out homer in the first inning opened the scoring, and his one-out double in the fourth led to the go-ahead run after Gutierrez’s game-tying homer.
Mariners lefty Vidal Nuno, in his second spot start, gave up two runs in five innings pretty much because he couldn’t solve Jones. The homer was on a pitch away — which Nuno said is what the scouting reports recommend.
“He’s a good hitter,” Nuno said. “So he took a nice swing on it and, sure enough … he just flicked it over the fence.”
Mayckol Guaipe retired Jones on a grounder to short to start the sixth — and then served up a first-pitch homer to Chris Davis, a 418-foot howitzer shell to center.
“It was a change-up that ran right into (Davis’) bat path,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He’s so strong, he doesn’t miss those.”
The Orioles led 3-1, and that was enough.
Point to note: Recall that right-hander Chris Tillman accompanied Jones to Baltimore in that lamentable trade for veteran pitcher Erik Bedard.
Tillman was the Mariners’ second-round pick in 2006, and he has developed into a reliable workhorse. He 46-23 over the past four years and is 6-0 with a 2.09 ERA in seven career starts against his former club.
The haunting never seems to end, does it?
Jones crushed a 1-1 slider from Nuno (0-1) for a 413-foot homer to center with two outs in the first inning. That was after Nuno won a 13-pitch battle against Gerardo Parra that included 10 foul balls.
Kyle Seager’s one-out double, off the top of the right-field wall, providing the Mariners with a quick chance to answer, but Chen retired Cruz on a fly to deep right and Robinson Cano on a grounder to second.
While Seager just missed a homer, Gutierrez led off the second with the high drive to left the clawed its way over the wall for a game-tying blast.
Nuno retired eight in a row after Jones’ homer before yielding a one-out double, to Jones, in the fourth inning.
“He always puts a good swing on the ball,” said Nuno, who has given up four hits to Jones in six career at-bats. “The next at-bat, I tried to come in. And sure enough, he just pulled his hands in and got that little double.”
Davis followed with an RBI single through the right side, and Baltimore led 2-1. Davis moved to second on Matt Wieters’ single to center, but Nuno retired the next two batters.
Cruz opened the Mariners’ fourth with a single through the right side, which extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games. It came to nothing; Chen retired the next three batters.
Cruz saved a run in the Orioles’ fifth after Manny Machado’s two-out double. Parra then hit a liner to right, but Cruz retreated and made a leaping catch.
But Cruz’s streak of extra-base hits ended at nine games — one shy of Ken Griffey Jr.’s 1993 club record.
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TUESDAY: Baltimore (RHP Chris Tillman: 8-7, 4.35 ERA) at Seattle (Taijuan Walker: 8-7, 4.67), 7:10 p.m., Root Sports, 710-AM, 1030-AM