Pitching and defense have been the story of the series for the O’s in Seattle. The first two games, excellence. The finale's 9-3 loss? Not so much.
In the previous two games, the O’s started Tyler Wells and Dean Kremer. Wells entered Monday’s game with a 2.57 ERA in the month of June, and Kremer was even better at 1.71.
Austin Voth hadn’t exactly been on a similar roll, but was still effective in a small sample size. Voth combined to pitch just 5 2/3 innings in his previous two starts, but the 30-year-old allowed only one earned run while striking out seven in the process.
In the second inning, the defense started to come back to Earth after a spectacular stretch. Cedric Mullins and Austin Hays collided in the outfield trying to cut off a ball in the gap. Jonathan Araúz committed an error on back-to-back plays, and then Adley Rutschman tried to wait on a swinging bunt down the line that stayed fair. Just like that, three runs came across to score.
“Thought he threw the ball well,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “Just didn’t make a couple of plays behind him that hurt.”
Mullins promptly made up for the miscommunication in the second with an outstanding leaping catch in the third to give his starter some help. All in all, Voth lasted three innings and 62 pitches, allowing three total runs with two earned. The defense did not give him the same help it gave to Wells and Kremer.
“Felt good, felt like going into the third inning I still had my legs underneath me,” Voth added. “Felt like I could’ve maybe gone out for that fourth inning, but they decided to keep me at 60 pitches.”
Much was made about Adley Rutschman’s homecoming, but it was a homecoming for Austin Voth, too. The right-hander attended Kentwood High School in Washington, and played college ball at the University of Washington.
“Ticket-wise, I had at least 35-plus, but there were friends and family that I wasn’t able to get tickets for as well,” Voth said. “There were a lot of fans, and I saw them while I was warming up in the bullpen. It was really cool to have them here today.”
Nick Vespi entered the game in relief of Voth in the fourth, but was only able to record a single out. The left-hander had allowed just one earned run through 11 1/3 innings in his young career, but allowed six earned runs in the fourth inning alone. When it rains, it pours. Something about a rain-in-Seattle joke.
Despite the rough outing, Brandon Hyde is still confident in the lefty’s abilities.
“Nick’s been great for us,” Hyde added. “He’s really been throwing the ball well. This is probably just a hiccup.”
Bryan Baker was able to keep the game within a reasonable margin after Vespi’s departure. The right-hander didn’t allow an earned run, and has now had a scoreless outing in four of his last five appearances. Baker went 2 2/3 innings and struck out two while only allowing one hit.
Dillon Tate pitched a flawless seventh inning, lowering his ERA to 1.96 on the year. Jorge López got some work in too, punching out three batters in a scoreless eighth.
On a brighter note, it took just one pitch for the Orioles to record as many hits today as they did in last night’s ballgame. Cedric Mullins took advantage of the shift with a bunt single down the third base line.
Mullins reached base four times on the day, with two hits and two walks.
“Just a little bit shorter to the baseball,” said Hyde. “Taking better at-bats, looking out over the plate.”
Ryan Mountcastle kept his incredible June going as well, knocking his 18th extra-base hit of the month in the fourth inning. It was an RBI double, scoring Anthony Santander and getting the Orioles on the board for the first time in nearly 13 innings.
Trey Mancini continued to do the same, driving home two runners with an RBI double of his own in the fifth inning. It was a nearly 112 mph shot, extending his hitting streak to eight games.
Unfortunately, Hays ran into some bad luck. He hit balls with exit velocities of 102.5 mph and 102.9 mph. They had expected batting averages of .550 and .760, according to Statcast. They were both outs.
“Hays hit the ball hard three times, just no production,” Hyde said. “Thought we took some pretty good swings, just got into a hole a little bit early, and a tough time coming out.”
For Chris Flexen, it was a very Chris Flexen final line: six innings, seven hits and three earned runs. The right-hander didn’t win the game for the Mariners, but certainly didn’t lose it, which has been the case all month. The 27-year-old has allowed either two or three earned runs in every single start in June. That’ll always keep you in ballgames.
Cedric Mullins reached base four times, and Ryan Mountcastle was on board three times. Six different Birds recorded a hit. The Orioles dropped this series two games to one, their first series loss since June 5. Overall, it was a 14-12 record in June, and a stretch to be encouraged by.