When Seattle Mariners outfielder Mitch Haniger came up with two outs in the fifth inning during Thursday’s doubleheader at Camden Yards, the matchup did not go the Orioles’ way.
After hitting a game-tying home run off right-hander Matt Harvey in the day’s first game, a 4-2 Mariners win, Haniger’s solo shot off left-hander Bruce Zimmermann was the difference as the Orioles fell, 2-1, to suffer a doubleheader sweep. Baltimore (5-8) managed just seven hits in the seven-inning doubleheader; three came in the first inning of the opener as the Orioles went 1-6 in their first homestand of 2021.
An Ellicott City native, Zimmermann cruised into the fifth, with a home run from Dylan Moore in the third the only blip to that point. To open the inning, he got Moore to ground out to shortstop Freddy Galvis, who hit his first home run with Baltimore in the bottom half of the third to tie the game, then beat J.P. Crawford in a race to first base for the second out. But Haninger’s home run on a 1-1 changeup broke the tie. The staff’s 21 home runs allowed led the majors entering Thursday night’s games.
“I didn’t have my best command and I was still able to battle through five innings,” Zimmermann said. “I wish I had a couple pitches back that found their way over the fence, but for the most part, even though I’m not happy with how I pitched, I am with battling and giving my team a chance.”
The Mariners followed the homer with two more singles, but Zimmermann got out of the inning with a deep flyout to right, making him the only Orioles rotation member to work at least five innings in each of his first three starts.
“Shows what kind of pitcher he is and kind of pitcher he’s going to be, going out there without his best stuff and only giving up a handful of hits and two runs,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “It’s outstanding, the way he’s pitching, the way he’s keeping up in games. I love his pitch mix. I just didn’t think he was as sharp today as he had been the last couple starts. But with that being said, two runs given up. You’re going to win more games than not when that happens.”
No walk in the park
Mariners right-hander Justin Dunn allowed only one hit in his first start of the year against the Chicago White Sox, but he also issued eight walks over 4 ⅔ innings. He continued to minimize hits Thursday at Oriole Park, but he also limited the free passes.
The Orioles entered the doubleheader with the third-lowest on-base percentage in the American League, a mark that got even lower once they managed only two base runners in Thursday’s first contest after the first inning. Anthony Santander walked against Dunn in the latter game’s first frame, but nothing came of it. From there through the fifth, Dunn allowed only three Orioles to reach base, surrendering Galvis’ home run to the flagcourt, a DJ Stewart single later in the inning and hitting Trey Mancini to lead off the fourth. He followed the Mancini hit-by-pitch by striking out the side.
“It would’ve been nice to grind out the at-bats a little longer, especially in a doubleheader day when bullpen guys have already pitched, you want to try to get into the bullpen as much as you can,” Hyde said. “I just thought we were a little aggressive early in the count on him.”
Can’t catch a break
In relief of Zimmermann, right-hander Travis Lakins Sr. seemed to work a quick sixth by inducing three straight groundballs to third baseman Maikel Franco. But Franco’s throw on the third play went through Mancini’s glove at first base, allowing Taylor Trammell to reach on a bad-luck error for Mancini. The Orioles recovered by catching Trammell trying to steal second.
The Orioles’ luck did not get any better in the bottom half. Stewart led off the inning with a walk off Dunn, ending his day. Stewart took second on a passed ball from reliever Will Vest, but he got doubled off there when Vest snagged Santander’s 91.8 mph line drive up the middle.
“That was pretty bad luck there,” Hyde said. “Tony Santander with a nice job putting the ball in play with two strikes and pitcher catching the ball off the ground on a line drive, you don’t see that very often. Just bad luck for us, the way he finishes his pitches, where his glove was was where the ball was on the ground. Nothing DJ Stewart could’ve done either. Just didn’t go our way there.”
After Mancini grounded out to the end the inning, he slammed his helmet into the dirt.
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Baltimore went quietly in theseventh, with Franco leading off the inning by grounding out on a 3-0 pitch as the Orioles suffered their eighth loss in 10 games. Their hitters are collectively batting .218 with a .288 OBP and lead the majors in strikeouts.
“I think we’ve had some guys with some tough luck, to be honest with you,“ Hyde said. “I do believe our offense is a lot better than we’re swinging the bat right now and we are going to turn it around.”