The Orioles didn’t waste much time putting a disappointing series split in Oakland behind them, jumping on former teammate Yovani Gallardo early in a resounding 11-3 victory over the Seattle Mariners on Monday night at Safeco Field.
The Orioles arrived in Seattle needing a series sweep against the Mariners to salvage a winning record on their 10-game West Coast road trip. And against a Seattle team they’re neck-and-neck with in the American League wild-card race, the Orioles took Monday’s series opener handily.
With the win, the Orioles (59-60) moved within two games of the second AL wild-card spot and past the Tampa Bay Rays for third place in the AL East, their first time there since June 10.
“We’ve got a chance to have a good road trip,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “I’m more about: Tomorrow is going to be another game that’s going to be a challenge. They’re competing for the same thing we are, and we caught them on a down night.”
Gallardo was pounded for six runs in the second inning, the big blow coming on Manny Machado’s second grand slam of the road trip. Nine of the first 14 batters against Gallardo, who was traded to the Mariners in the offseason for outfielder Seth Smith, reached base.
The Orioles hit four homers on the night, none more substantial — in both significance and grandiosity — than Machado’s bases-loaded blast, the sixth of his career.
With two Orioles runs already plated in the frame, Machado turned a belt-high 1-2 fastball from Gallardo and deposited it in the third deck of the left-field stands, an estimated 430 feet, at an exit velocity of 108.6 mph for his 23rd homer of the season.
“You know, we’ve got to continue doing what we’re doing,” Machado said. “We’re playing good defense, good offense, and the pitching’s doing well. So we’ve got to keep doing that, keep playing as a team, keep passing the baton. … [In the second inning], we came up and just got hits, hits, hits, until it led to a big home run. We’ve just got to keep doing that. The little things are going to take us to the next level, and we keep playing as a team.”
Machado had opened the road trip with a game-winning grand slam a week ago to give the Orioles a 6-2 win over the Los Angeles Angels in Anaheim. Over his past 16 games, he’s hitting .386 with eight doubles, a triple, five homers and 20 RBIs.
“You look at where he is statistically and where he was, it just tells you how much he’s been grinding,” Showalter said of Machado. “He’s been swinging the bat well for us. He’s dug out of a big hole.”
The Orioles’ 16-hit outburst Monday marked their fifth straight game with 10 or more hits, a season high.
Gallardo (5-8) allowed eight runs on nine hits over four-plus innings.
Gausman rebounds with another quality start
Right-hander Kevin Gausman’s outing didn’t start off well — he allowed back-to-back doubles and a single to his first three batters faced, giving up a run — but he walked off the mound after seven innings to applause from the Orioles fans behind the third base dugout with his fifth quality start in six outings.
“I think we’re playing our best baseball right now,” Gausman said. “Really, since the break, I think we’ve been playing pretty well. … Yeah, I think if your starting staff can do what we’ve been doing lately, I think there’s no reason why we can’t be in the hunt.”
Gausman (9-8) held the Mariners (59-61) to two runs and six hits over seven innings. After allowing the first three batters to reach, he retired 12 of the next 13 he faced before allowing a solo homer to catcher Mike Zunino to open the fifth.
Gausman, who allowed just four base runners after the game’s first three batters, has an ERA of 1.80 over his past six starts.
“To see a guy back off the mound, collect himself and just try to minimize the damage, and get us back in the dugout, that was huge,” Showalter said of Gausman overcoming the first inning.
He was on the ropes early: one run in and runners at second and third with no outs in the first. But Gausman maneuvered his way out of the opening frame by striking out Nelson Cruz and Kyle Seager before shortstop Tim Beckham made a nice charging play and throw to first on Guillermo Heredia’s grounder to end the inning.
“After the fact, Buck, after he told me I was out of the game, he said, ‘Hey, you won the game in the first inning,’ ” Gausman said. “I’m obviously not trying to give back that run right away, but I just knew if I could make good quality pitches and really mix my pitches, that I had a chance to get out of that inning.”
He pitched effectively with his fastball, especially high in the zone, getting eight of his 16 swinging strikes with the pitch. Four of his six strikeouts came on high fastballs against a free-swinging Mariners lineup.
“It was huge,” Gausman said. “That was something looking at them, scouting them, it was something that I knew I was going to be able to do. They have a lot of low-ball hitters, so if you throw fastballs up and throw enough strikes where they have to respect it, you can put yourself in some good counts to get some weak contact.”
Beckham starts home run parade
Beckham opened the game by homering the first pitch he saw from Gallardo, a 91-mph fastball he sent the opposite way, into the right-field stands.
Machado’s grand slam came an inning later. Smith hit a two-run homer, his 12th long ball of the year, in the fifth, and rookie Trey Mancini opened the seventh with his 21st homer of the season.
Beckham had three hits on the night, upping his average to .500 in 14 games with the Orioles. He has 13 extra-base hits — seven doubles, two triples and four homers — in that span.
First baseman Chris Davis also had three hits Monday — his first three-hit game since May 16 in Detroit — and five other Orioles had multiple hits.
Jones keeps climbing franchise hits list
With two hits Monday, center fielder Adam Jones passed Boog Powell for sole possession of fifth place on the Orioles’ all-time hit list with 1,575.
“I think it’s more of a reminder when you’re talking about all these great Baltimore players, Adam’s name is mentioned in there, too,” Showalter said. “And he could have played in any era, and that’s a great compliment.”
In five games since moving to the cleanup spot, Jones is hitting .409 (9-for-22) with seven RBIs.
Jones is now 39 hits shy of Brady Anderson for fourth place on the team’s all-time hit list.