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Orioles' Cashner damaged by homers, but real reason for his short start was failure on two-strike pitches

Orioles right-hander Andrew Cashner admitted to a frustrating night in the Orioles’ 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday night at Safeco Field.

As in many of his starts, he didn’t get much run support, but he didn’t blame that for his struggles.

Cashner acknowledged that he “really didn’t do a lot well” in his 4 1/3-inning outing, his fourth-shortest of his season through 27 starts. The damage was done on three solo homers, including back-to-back blasts by Nelson Cruz and Denard Span in the fifth that chased Cashner from the game after 100 pitches.

“It was mistakes over the plate,” Cashner said. “That’s what big league hitters do. Come back, we’ve got Oakland this weekend so get back to the board. I really need to stay over the rubber and stay closed a little longer and get out front.”

The real damage occurred before then, when Cashner caught himself in several deep counts that were extended by his inability to execute put-away pitches with two strikes.

“It’s been a challenge for a lot of our pitchers is getting outs in three or four pitches,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “It seems like we’re so deep in every count. Even the counts we have in our favor, the next thing you know we turn around and we’re in a position where the hitter is taking out of doubt what’s coming. It’s forcing us to make pitches you don’t want to make. … But all that being said, he’s one pitch away from coming out of the game after five with the lead.”

Just 13 of the 24 batters Cashner faced ended their plate appearances on four or fewer pitches, which led to some long at-bats that sent Cashner to a short outing. The Mariners fouled off 21 of his pitches as well.

Cashner threw 22 pitches with two strikes that didn’t result in a ball put in play, which extended his pitch count dramatically early in the game. In the second inning, he was ahead of Span 0-2 but couldn’t put him away, allowing a single on the seventh pitch of the at-bat. He worked ahead of Kyle Seager, the next hitter, 1-2, but needed 10 pitches to retire him on a flyout to center.

“A lot of pitches in a short amount of time,” catcher Caleb Joseph said. “Kind of a similar outing as Kansas City, not being able to throw his pitches in the zone. He had good movement, good stuff. I thought he had a really good changeup. There were a few really nice sliders. The heater has life on it, touching [93 and 95]. Just couldn’t get in the zone and couldn’t get it done in the zone. I thought he did a really good job of navigating around some of the walks and some of the hits, a mistake to Nelson, and then Span jumps on a 2-0 changeup and before you know it, he goes from potentially getting the ‘W’ to in line for a loss, but it probably shouldn’t got to that.

“We could have pushed across a few runs there and maybe it’s 6-3 there and he has a little more cushion to get in the zone more. Dangerous lineup, there’s power potential all over that lineup, so you understand what he’s doing, but his stuff is too good to be out of the zone as much as it was tonight.”

eencina@baltsun.com

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