Orioles 5, Mariners 3 (10)
(Seattle, WA) A playoff atmosphere could be felt all around T-Mobile Park on Sunday when baseball’s hottest team in the Seattle Mariners took the field to take on the American League’s best team in the Baltimore Orioles in the rubber game of a dramatic three-game series. Two young teams both still climbing towards their potential got a taste of October baseball as it felt more like the loser of this game was done for the season despite that not being even remotely true. With every passing inning the game got more and more intense in what turned out to be one of the best baseball games so far in the 2023 season. The hero of the game would be a player that didn’t even start and would be repping the Baltimore uniform as Cedric Mullins stole the show in the 9th and 10th innings as Seattle fell just short to lose their first series since the first one post-All-Star break as the M’s fell to the O’s 5-3.
Zeros wouldn’t stay on the board nearly as long as they did in the Saturday pitcher’s duel. In the top of the 3rd, Baltimore scored first which has been an important key in their breakout season. An error helped the O’s as James McCann reached on an error by Dylan Moore who has been the Mariner shortstop in the absence of J.P. Crawford. With a runner on first and nobody out, Adley Rutschman singled into right to send McCann from first to third with the speedy Gunnar Henderson coming to the plate. It would be tough to double up Henderson with his speed but the young infielder didn’t give Seattle the chance. Henderson sent a fly ball to fairly deep left field that was caught by Marlowe, but allowed McCann to score to give Baltimore the 1-0 lead.
Seattle found an answer immediately in the next half inning. Josh Rojas drew a one out walk in the bottom of the 3rd to put some speed on the basepaths for the M’s. A slow grounder by Julio Rodriguez to third made for a tricky play for Jordan Westburg, but Westburg made the only play he could and threw out Julio at first while Rojas moved up to second with two down. After Baltimore starter Kyle Bradish got some eye drops to get something out of his eye, Eugenio Suarez would step up for the Mariners and delivered a hit to try to get the offense rolling. Geno singled back up the middle and the ball was not hit too hard which allowed Rojas to score easily from second without a throw to tie the game up at 1-1.
In the bottom of the 5th, Seattle would grab their first lead since the opening game on Friday night. Bradish quickly recorded two outs to bring up Josh Rojas and the new Mariner second baseman was again a thorn in the side of the Baltimore Orioles. Rojas hit what seemed to be a harmless single to center to turn the lineup over with Julio Rodriguez coming to the plate. J-Rod would pull a slider on the outer third down the left field line for a base hit and the ball ended up rolling all the way to the wall. Again Rojas was able to utilize his speed to score from first without a play while Julio stood on second with his 26th double of the season, giving the Mariners a 2-1 lead.
Just like the Mariners did when they fell behind, the Orioles found a quick answer in their next time up at the plate. A one out infield single for Ryan Mountcastle put the tying run on in the top of the 6th for the Orioles who would turn to small ball after that. Adam Frazier laid down a nice bunt to move Mountcastle to second, but a nice play by Suarez got Frazier at first for the second out. Another run came in with two outs as Baltimore’s All-Star Austin Hays delivered the big hit. A line drive into left field was able to score Mountcastle and chase Bryce Miller with the score tied at 2-2. Jutin Topa would strikeout Jordan Westburg to end the inning and help Miller avoid a loss, giving the rookie a no-decision.
Neither team was able to put much of a threat together against the opposing bullpen until the 9th. Andrés Muñoz got a strikeout of Austin Hays before giving up a double by Jordan Westburg to put the go-ahead run in scoring position. Controversy would arise after a walk to James McCann put two runners on with one out. Muñoz would be called for a balk which moved the runners up to second and third and also cost the Mariners their manager as Scott Servais was ejected and got his money’s worth as well. It was a very borderline balk call that ended up having a large impact on the game as Adley Rutschman hit a soft grounder between the pitchers mount and the first baseline. Muñoz grabbed the ball and threw it home to Cal Raleigh, but a tremendous slide the pinch runner, Jorge Mateo allowed him to just beat the tag and give Baltimore the lead 3-2. A double play would end the inning but Seattle needed a run to keep the game alive.
With closer Felix Bautista unavailable due to throwing too many pitches on Saturday night, Mike Baumann looked to lockdown the game for the Orioles. It looked like he had failed when Ty France came to the plate with one out and sent a very deep drive to right center field. For the second time in this series though, Cedric Mullins brought back a home run and this one turned out to be one of the best catches you will see this season. A fired up Mullins celebrated while France went back to the dugout and the Mariners were down to their final out.
Dominic Canzone was the last chance for the Mariners and he jumped all over a fastball that changed this game drastically. Canzone flipped his bat immediately after making contact and there was no chance this one was being brought back. Canzone’s first home run as a Mariner and second of the season was a 402-foot blast that tied the game in the 9th at 3-3.
For the second consecutive day, bonus baseball would be played in Seattle as the M’s and the O’s went to the 10th with both getting a runner to start on second. Gunnar Henderson moved up to third after Trent Thornton got Anthony Santander to groundout for the first out. That brought Cedric Mullins to the plate and he hurt the Mariners badly again. After yanking a deep drive foul earlier in the at-bat, Mullins timed up a fastball and sent it way out to right field for his 10th home run of the season. The two-run shot dealt a big blow to the Mariners as they now trailed 5-3.
There would not be another comeback for the Mariners against Shintaro Fujinami. The newly acquired Oriole retired Dylan Moore, Mike Ford and Julio Rodriguez in order without allowing Sam Haggerty to score after starting the inning at second. The 1-2-3 inning ended the Mariners six series win streak as they dropped the finale and series to Baltimore by a final score of 5-3.
After finishing up a five game homestand, the Seattle Mariners (63-54) will now go on the road for their next ten games, beginning with a four-game series in Kansas City with the Royals (38-81). Logan Gilbert (10-5, 3.66 ERA) gets the ball in game one on Monday at 5:10pm. Gilbert had one of the best starts of his career last time out against San Diego when he struck out 12 over seven scoreless innings of one hit ball. The M’s have won the last seven games started by Logan Gilbert, with their last loss in such a game coming on June 28th. Starting pitching has been a major weakness for the Kansas City Royals but they will hope to have Brady Singer (8-8, 5.05 ERA) turn things around in the opener on Monday. Singer has won his two August starts, getting 18 runs of offensive support in those two outings while only allowing three runs.
Man this series dealt some absolute devastating losses. Losing two out of three to Baltimore is not a big deal nor is it necessarily unexpected. It is the way these games were lost. Of course losing in a game where your starting pitcher throws nine shutout innings is the most frustrating way to lose a game imaginable. A loss like Saturday should never happen in the game of baseball. You absolutely have to manage a run against a pitcher with an ERA over 4.00. Sunday’s loss was tough too especially when you look at the fact one of those runs was unearned. When you play a team the level of the Baltimore Orioles, you can not give them free baserunners. Seattle is more of a middle of the pack team in terms of defense this season than they have been in recent years. We are used to seeing them be arguably the best defensive team in baseball but that has not been the case this season. I understand that with J.P. Crawford missing time the defense takes a big hit, but routine plays should still be routine.
Now a big road trip awaits the Mariners. Ten games and only three of them come against a team in the playoff race. A 7-3 road trip is not unreasonable right now. If they can pull that off, the momentum will be right back on the M’s side. It all starts with a four-game series in Kansas City where the Mariners have had struggles in the last couple of years. Winning three out of four is the bare minimum. If this team is going to get to the playoffs, they have to beat the lower tier teams which is what the Kansas City Royals are. The Royals can hit OK, but Seattle should be able to hit the Royals atrocious pitching staff and the Mariners rotation should be plenty capable of shutting down the Royals as well.
- Cedric Mullins- 1-2, HR, 2 RBI, R, Robbed a Home Run
- Ryan Mountcastle- 2-5, R
- Kyle Bradish (ND)- 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 SO
- Dominic Canzone- 1-4, HR, RBI, R
- Eugenio Suarez- 2-4, RBI
- Bryce Miller (ND)- 5.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 SO