Seattle — If nothing else, the chronically slumping Orioles remain exasperatingly predictable.
For the fourth time in a row on this West Coast road trip, they hung around until the middle innings and then let another game get away, this time with a 5-2 loss to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday night at T-Mobile Park.
Their ninth loss in a row wasn’t quite as galling as the two Oakland blowouts leading up to it, but the sad song still remains the same. The O’s just do not have the horses to keep up with the competition at this level and that eventually is revealed on a nightly basis.
Right-hander Dylan Bundy did what he could. He carried a strong performance into the sixth inning, but he also has shown a tendency to hit the wall at about that point in his recent starts. He allowed just four base runners through five and then — quite suddenly — allowed four straight hits to hand the lead and ultimately the game to a Mariners team that isn’t going to be mistaken for Murderers’ Row anytime soon.
It might have been different if the Orioles hitters could muster any semblance of a consistent offensive attack, but the extent of the run support that Bundy received came courtesy of the three first-inning walks that were handed out by Mariners “opener” Taylor Scott and a two-out, two-run single by first baseman Rio Ruiz.
No shame in that. Squeezing an opposing pitcher hard enough to get him out of the game before can get the first three outs is a good thing, but it doesn’t mean a whole lot if it’s the only thing.
The Orioles have been stuck in the neutral at the plate since the they arrived in Oakland, where they managed just 13 hits in three losses and maintained that modest pace with their four-hit performance Thursday night.
“We don’t add on leads and we don’t add on runs,’’ manager Brandon Hyde said. “It seems like once we get down these last couple of weeks we have a hard time getting back in it. We’re having a tough time against major league bullpens that are going right through us as of late. We did a nice job in the first and didn’t do anything after that.”
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Ruiz’s first-inning hit gave them a lead for the first time since the second inning of Monday night’s one-run loss to the A’s and it held up just long enough for the Mariners to figure out Bundy.
Seattle struck back in the second inning with a leadoff home run by Omar Narvaez and tied the game on solo shot by Domingo Santana with one out in the sixth. Three batters after that, Bundy was out of the game and on his way to his ninth loss in 12 decisions.
“Kind of the same thing as the last start, gave up multiple hits in a row in the sixth inning,’’ Bundy said. “I was just leaving pitches over the middle of the plate more in the sixth inning than the first five.”
Right-hander Evan Phillips, who had been added to the roster earlier in the day, took over and allowed an inherited run to score as well as an earned run of his own on two hits and a walk. Left-hander Paul Fry followed him to the mound and walked in a run.
Both relievers were optioned back to Triple-A Norfolk after the game so the club can add some fresh arms at a time when the bullpen has been stretched to the limit and will be again Friday night. Hyde has not announced who will start the game, but it will be pitched entirely by relievers.
The Mariners employed the “opener” concept to no seeming advantage, but veteran left-hander Wade LeBlanc made it work after replacing Scott and allowing the single by Ruiz. He got out of the first inning and pitched six more, while giving up just four hits and striking out seven to earn his fourth victory in six decisions.