August 15, 2017: The Orioles lose to the Mariners, 3-1. (Denise Sanders, Baltimore Sun video)
SEATTLE — Even considering how wide open the American League wild-card race seems to be, the Orioles realize they'll have to get to the .500 mark and beyond to have a chance of making the playoffs.
As their 10-day road trip comes to a close Wednesday in Seattle, the Orioles have seemingly spent their time on the West Coast trading wins and losses as they continue to muddle through this inconsistent season.
The Orioles' last 20 hitters were retired in order Tuesday in a 3-1 loss to the Seattle Mariners, a defeat that marked the fourth time since they fell below .500 last week that they had a chance to get back to even but couldn't.
The club now has 42 games remaining to make a run, and even though they've shown flashes of that potential, they've failed to break through on this trip. Now they'll need a win in Wednesday afternoon's series finale to break even on the trip, and no matter what, they'll return east with a losing record. Despite the loss, they remained two games behind the Los Angeles Angels for the second wild card.
"We are fighting," catcher Welington Castillo said. "We know it's not easy, the division. We are fighting and the goal is to win it all. Just have a good record and make the playoffs and move on from there. Nobody said it's going to be easy, so we go out there and grind every day and at the end of the day we'll walk into our house or our hotel with our head up because we've gave it everything we've got."
The Orioles (59-61) had seven base runners in the first three innings against Mariners left-hander Andrew Albers (1-0), but managed just one run over that span on Jonathan Schoop's solo homer to left three batters into the game.
Left-hander Wade Miley (6-10) faced one over the minimum batters through his first three innings, but failed to get out of the fifth inning, marking the fifth time in his past seven starts that he failed to get an out in the sixth.
The Orioles entered Tuesday having scored double-digit runs in two of three games, but couldn't muster more than a mere run against the Mariners on Tuesday night.
Albers, a 31-year-old journeyman who entered the night having pitched just 19 2/3 major league innings since his rookie season four years ago, stemmed an early Orioles tide as five of the first eight hitters he faced had hits.
The Orioles had two on with one out in the second, but didn't score. They seemed poised to break out against Albers in the third after putting runners at the corners with no outs.
Manny Machado opened the inning with a double, moved to third on a wild pitch, and Schoop drew a walk after falling behind 1-2.
Adam Jones lined out to center field, and Jarrod Dyson threw Machado out at home for an 8-2 double play that might've been the biggest outs of the game.
"We had the chance to score a couple more runs and support Miley's outing, but that's a part of baseball," Castillo said. "We were making outs and he was making his pitches. We got ourselves out. It's tough. It's tough to win when you don't score runs."
After that, the Orioles didn't have a hit, as Mariners pitchers retired 20 consecutive hitters to end the game.
Albers retired the last eight batters he faced, and reliever Emilio Pagan tossed two perfect innings in relief with four strikeouts.
Schoop's first-inning homer, which came on an 0-1 changeup, was his 26th of the season — a new career high — and was his first on the road trip. Schoop is 8-for-20 over his past five games.
Miley's performance a mixed bag
Miley entered the fifth with the game tied at 1, but the inning quickly unraveled for him. After allowing a leadoff double to Danny Espinosa, Dyson dropped a bunt to the left of the mound. Miley fielded it, turned to third — he might have had a play there, but probably didn't at first against the speedy Dyson — but fumbled the ball, putting runners at the corners with no outs.
Jean Segura then dug out a low 2-2 curveball for a single to left field to score Espinosa. After a 6-4 fielder's choice, Robinson Canó hit a chopper to first, where Chris Davis went to second for the force, but Guillermo Heredia's slide took out shortstop Tim Beckham to prevent a throw back to first for a double play, allowing Dyson to score.
"The body of work is good," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "If we score four or five runs, we're talking about a different look at his outing. We're fortunate because of the job we got done yesterday that we had some people that almost needed the work today and we were able to keep it close. I thought we'd make a run at them, but they did a great job of pitching."
Miley said he was just missing with his fastballs and cutters, which led to deep counts and some long innings in the fourth and fifth innings.
"I'm talking like inches in, could have been strikes, and just kind of fell behind a little bit," Miley said. "Man on second, the bunt, probably had a good look at it third base if I get that transfer and get it over to Manny. That changes a lot right there. ... Nothing super negative about the outing. Like I said, fastballs a few inches on the plate a little more and probably changed the outcome."
Miley's early exit forced the Orioles to use three relievers to get through the game, with Darren O'Day tossing 1 1/3 scoreless innings and Mychal Givens and Brad Brach each pitching a scoreless frame.
"We only scored one run, that's the story of the game for me," Showalter said. "Not many opportunities, but couldn't cash in on the ones we did. Had a couple of decisions on the bunt and whether to turn the double play or go to the plate. Those are things that happen every night that you make decisions on."