By Christian Caple The News Tribune
SEATTLE – You can’t say the Seattle Mariners didn’t hit on Sunday.
In fact, the Mariners had 10 hits in 10 innings, three of them from the resurgent Dustin Ackley, three of them from catcher Mike Zunino — including a solo home run that tied the score in the eighth — and another two from rookie shortstop Chris Taylor, not yet through his first week in the big leagues.
They reached base. But again, too many of them didn’t score, so the Baltimore Orioles left Safeco Field with a 3-2, extra-innings victory, their third win in this four-game series, and a disappointing capper to a 2-5 homestand for the Mariners.
On Sunday, the Mariners managed just one hit in seven at-bats with runners in scoring position — an RBI double by Taylor in the second inning — and stranded runners in every inning but the fifth, eighth and 10th.
“That’s just not going to get it done,” McClendon said. “Unfortunate for us today. We had opportunities, and we just didn’t come through. They did.”
Indeed, the Orioles did, falling behind 1-0 before banging a run across in the third against Mariners starter Roenis Elias, then taking a 2-1 lead on a two-out, infield RBI single by Manny Machado in the eighth inning against reliever Brandon Maurer.
Zunino bailed the Mariners out with a 388-foot homer over the left-field fence with two outs in the eighth inning, tying the score at 2-2 and making more likely the prospect of extra innings. But the Orioles – and Machado – put an end to the free baseball in the 10th inning.
After Mariners reliever Yoervis Medina began that frame by allowing a leadoff double to Adam Jones, he walked Nelson Cruz and Chris Davis to load the bases with nobody out.
A popout by J.J. Hardy improved Seattle’s situation. Machado came to the plate and promptly fell behind 0-2. But Medina left a sinker over the plate, Machado drilled it to deep center field, and even though James Jones tracked it and caught it, Adam Jones tagged and scored easily from third base.
Zunino said he wanted the pitch “down and away. He’s got such a great sinker that I thought it would be a perfect spot to do that and try to get a double play there. … I thought it was a good pitch to go back to, and I thought he just left it over the plate a little bit.”
Orioles closer Zach Britton struck the Mariners out in order in the bottom of the 10th to end it.
The Mariners (54-51) received five solid innings from rookie left-hander Elias, who allowed one run, four hits and three walks, and struck out six batters. He threw only 85 pitches, but McClendon said afterward that he feels the Mariners “have to be careful with this young man” in regard to his season pitch-count.
Elias, who left his last start due to cramping in his left arm, said through an interpreter that he would have been fine to keep going.
“I definitely wanted to go back out there, but they made the decision to take me out,” he said. “I had the forearm cramps last start, so that was just the decision they made.”
Tom Wilhelmsen pitched two scoreless innings in relief, and Maurer struck out the side in the eighth inning – but he also allowed a double to Adam Jones, and eventually walked Hardy to load the bases with two outs.
Machado hit a ball hard toward the hole at shortstop, where Taylor made a nice stop and threw to Robinson Cano at second base. But his throw was high, Cano had to pull his foot off the base, and the run scored.
“I really thought I should have had that,” Taylor said. “It got away from me a little bit. It’s baseball. I’ll make the play next time.”
That was Sunday: inches from being denied, the Orioles managed to scrape across a run. The Mariners simply couldn’t.
“We didn’t have a ton of opportunities, but we did have a couple we didn’t capitalize on, and that’s what it takes,” Ackley said. “You saw those guys, they got runners on there at the end and they were able to get the sac fly, which is huge. We just didn’t take advantage, and they did.”