For Tyler Wilson, the difference between a good outing on Thursday and a bad one came down to a single swing.
Seattle Mariners first baseman Adam Lind launched a towering fly ball to left field in the sixth inning and it barely cleared the fence to break open a close game and propel the Mariners to a 7-2 victory over the Orioles before 35,012 on a beautiful afternoon at Camden Yards.
It was a frustrating moment for Wilson, because he was so focused on trying to get out of the inning with a double play that he left a pitch where Lind could put it in the air, which would have driven home a runner from third even if it hadn’t carried into the seats.
“Sometimes you end up giving up three trying to stop one," Wilson said. “I think that’s what happened. I tried to make too good of pitches and got too worried about stopping that guy from scoring on third and ended up giving up three. I think that sometimes happens in the game and that’s obviously not how you want it to go down.”
Wilson had allowed just two runs on three before that, but that still wouldn’t have been good enough to win on a day when the Orioles’ explosive lineup did not wake up against Mariners starter Nathan Karns.
Karns ran up his pitch count with a lot of long at-bats early in the game, but he didn’t blink. He allowed one earned run on four hits over five innings, but the only one of those hits that left a mark was a towering fly ball off the bat of Pedro Alvarez that caromed off the scoreboard in right field and drove home Jonathan Schoop in the second inning.
The Orioles scored their other run on a bases-loaded groundout by Adam Jones in an eighth inning when they twice brought the tying run to the plate, but the Mariners survived the threat and increased their comfort zone with a two-run homer by Leonys Martin in the ninth.
The Orioles completed their seven-game homestand with a respectable 4-3 record but lost the series to the Mariners, who outscored them 19-7 in the three games. It was the Orioles' first home series loss this season and ended a string of four straight series victories.
Right-hander Mike Wright will take the mound for the Orioles on Friday night against Angels left-hander Hector Santiago, who – by the way – was one of the pitchers acquired by the Angels in the three-team deal that sent Mark Trumbo from the Angels to the Arizona Diamondbacks in 2013.
The action inning: The sixth inning is problematic for a lot of pitchers, and it was for Wilson, who allowed a walk and three hits – including the game-breaking three-run home run by Lind. Why is the sixth inning problematic? Well, in part because it comes around at just about the time most starting pitchers are nearing the 100-pitch mark, but this time because Wilson was facing a very good lineup for the third time. In a tight game, that usually means the heart of a dangerous batting order is queued up for its third shot.
Too many Cruz missiles: Nelson Cruz wasn’t as prominent in this game as he was in the series opener (one homer, five RBIs), but he was a constant thorn in the side of his old team this week. He reached base a total of seven times, scored three times and drove in six runs. On Thursday, he got the Mariners started with a two-out RBI single in the first inning, but the Orioles had to be happy to see the last of him for a while.