The Orioles finally broke free of the offensive frustration that has defined this West Coast road trip, but it happened a little too late for them to avoid their 10th straight defeat.
They nearly staged their biggest comeback of the season, but the struggling bullpen dug the hole a run too deep and the Seattle Mariners held on to score a 10-9 victory on Friday night at T-Mobile Field.
The game got off to a promising start when the Orioles scored three times in the first inning. But on a night when manager Brandon Hyde had no starting pitcher available, the bullpen was not able to fill the void even for a few innings
Long man Sean Gilmartin got the start and gave up five runs over 2 1/3 innings and the latest pitchers to join the O’s on the West Coast this week quickly proved that sleep deprivation is not a cure for what ails the O’s bullpen.
Branden Kline and Tanner Scott both struggled with their control after a marathon travel day and allowed the game to get further out of hand.
Kline, who traveled from Hartford, Conn., to Harrisburg, Pa., to Chicago and then Seattle over the previous 24 hours, walked the first batter he faced and allowed three runs before getting out of the Mariners’ five-run third inning.
Scott, who went from Scranton, Pa., to Buffalo, N.Y., to Chicago and then Seattle, followed him to the mound and also walked the first batter he faced. He walked a total of three batters and allow an RBI single in the fifth inning, but only was charged with one earned run.
“That is a tough travel day for ‘em,’’ Hyde said. “Like I’ve said before, both those guys have major league bullpen stuff. It’s about being able to command the baseball and, when they figure it out, which they will, they’re going to be really nice back-end relievers. Until then, we’re going to ride it out with them and try to get them better. It’s all about command for both those guys.”
Shawn Armstrong took over in the sixth and he, too, walked the first batter he faced. Bu he settled down to throw two scoreless innings and hold things together after the offense staged a five-run rally in the sixth.
If Gilmartin took the mound for his 2019 Orioles debut in an unfamiliar role, he didn’t use that as cover for an outing that featured nine baserunners and two home runs.
"It's tough,’’ he said. “You just have to go out there and try to get outs. You try to give the team three innings and that's all you can hope for. I went back out for that third and I got the first guy and things kind of fell through from there."
Five of the first six batters in the big sixth inning hit safely. Jonathan Villar led off with a double and, after Anthony Santander grounded out, Dwight Smith Jr. singled home a run and Pedro Severino lined a base hit to left. Chance Sisco followed with an RBI double and Hanser Alberto beat out an infield hit to drive home another run.
Sisco scored on a misplay by shortstop J.P. Crawford and the final run scored on a ground out by Stevie Wilkerson to make it a two-run game.
“We stayed in the game and had really good at-bats until the end,’’ Hyde said. “I like the way we competed. And going back to spring training, we were hoping for a group of guys that were looking for an opportunity, trying to take advantage of an opportunity and competed every single night. ...This trip has been tough but we did compete tonight and I thought we showed a lot of character in how we played.”
The Orioles opened the seventh with three straight hits and scored one more run on Severino’s third hit of the game. They had the potential go-ahead run at the plate in that inning, but the Mariners’ bullpen stiffened and the M’s held on to keep the O’s winless since June 11.
“We fight,” Severino said. “It’s 27 outs and we fight during the game. It doesn’t matter if we’re losing, we just grind and grind and grind until the game is over. We had a great comeback right there and all my teammates did a great job.”