The Orioles were feeling pretty good about themselves when they arrived at T-Mobile Park on Sunday morning, and why not?
They were coming off a resounding victory Saturday that finally ended a 10-game losing streak and seemed to have rediscovered their offensive mojo with two straight big run totals.
So, when Trey Mancini launched a long home run to center field in the first inning, it looked as if they just might be on their way to ending another dubious streak — 42 days without winning back-to-back games.
No such luck.
The Mariners would have none of that, erupting in an interminable third inning for eight runs and trouncing the O’s, 13-3, to send them home with only one victory in a very discouraging seven-game West Coast road trip.
“We’re doing a really nice job in the first inning,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That’s what’s so disappointing. You put up runs early and not be able to shut down innings. That’s just … can’t do that. You have to be able to put a zero up after a team sparks you. We’ve had a tough time all year doing that.”
It was just another example of the club’s tissue-thin pitching depth. Starter Gabriel Ynoa allowed seven earned runs over 2 1/3 innings and had to minimize a big jam in the second inning to stay out of double figures.
Rookie Matt Wotherspoon, the latest minor league pitcher to fly coast-to-coast to bridge a gaping innings gap in the bullpen, took over with one out and two runs across in the third and allowed five straight batters to reach base. When the inning ended, the Orioles were down 10-2 and probably wondering if there was going to be dungeness crab on the charter flight home.
Wotherspoon also allowed a two-run home run in the fifth and pitched through the sixth to preserve an arm or two for Tuesday night’s likely bullpen game against the San Diego Padres.
Hyde keeps getting asked about possible pitching help and he keeps giving the same answer. Wotherspoon got some experience coming up from minor league camp during spring training to give the big league club some innings in spring training, but he was not projected to make the 25-man roster this year and probably won’t be on it long.
“We just don’t have a whole lot of arms in the upper levels that can pitch here,” Hyde said. “So it’s, we’re able to throw out there what we have right now.”
It was the second time on the trip that the O’s suffered a truly embarrassing defeat, nearly matching the 16-2 offensive avalanche that swept over them in Oakland on Tuesday night.
It was the third double-digit offensive performance by the opposition during a trip on which the Orioles gave up 59 runs, or an average of 8.4 per game.
The Orioles scored 29 runs on the trip, but most of them were concentrated in the two strong performances on Friday and Saturday. The trip opened with four straight losses in which the Orioles scored a total of nine runs and amassed only 18 hits.
“Not a great trip obviously,” Mancini said. “Kind of reminiscent of the trip last year. We came out to play the Angels and A’s and went 0-6 last year and we only got one [win] this trip. Not ideal. Not where you want to be. Hopefully, we can go home and turn it around there.”
Still, Sunday’s game was not without a few Orioles offensive highlights. The home run by Mancini was his 17th of the year and should alleviate any concern about the condition of the bruised elbow that kept him out of games Thursday and Friday.
“It feels good,” he said. “I wouldn’t be out there if I thought it was going to hinder me at all, but it feels totally fine. It’s not anything I think about at all when I’m playing.”
Third baseman Hanser Alberto had a pair of doubles at the top of the batting order and raised his batting average to .307 as he crept closer to being eligible for the league rankings in that category. If he had just two more plate appearances, he would officially rank sixth in the American League in batting.
The game ended quietly after all but two of the runs by both teams came after the fourth inning. The Orioles did get to reconnect with an old friend when right-hander Mike Wright came on to pitch the final two scoreless innings for the Mariners.