The rotation is motoring through its third turn in 2021. Traveling a road that hasn’t appeared on any map, with the baseball season accelerating from 60 to 162 games. Potholes can look like canyons.
The Orioles are packing 14 pitchers for the early portion of their trip as needed protection, uncertain how many innings can be handled by their starters and unwilling to risk injury or any semblance of strain.
Only John Means and rookie Bruce Zimmermann (twice) have been able or allowed to complete the sixth in the first 12 games, a nod toward the decision to keep an extra reliever in the mix. There are 10 today for the doubleheader with Cole Sulser chosen as the 27th man.
Matt Harvey stood on the mound this afternoon for his second career start against the Mariners, the teams engaging again after Tuesday’s doubleheader split, dramatics and latest postponement. The former All-Star and Cy Young candidate carried a one-hit shutout in the fifth, surrendered a two-out, two-run homer to Mitch Haniger and was done after Freddy Galvis’ error.
The Mariners scored twice off left-hander Tanner Scott with two outs in the sixth and defeated the Orioles 4-2 at Camden Yards. The second game begins in 45 minutes.
Scott got called third strikes on Luis Torrens and Taylor Trammell, both with his slider, after a leadoff walk to José Marmolejos, but Dylan Moore singled and J.P. Crawford doubled on the same two-strike pitch. Crawford’s liner down the right field line plated pinch-runner Braden Bishop and Moore to break a 2-2 tie.
“I like him on Crawford there and two strikes, the slider just got a little too much of the plate,” said manager Brandon Hyde.
Trey Mancini, back in the lineup after being told to sit yesterday prior to the rainout, hit a two-run homer to center field in the first inning. Mariners left-hander Marcos Gonzales retired 10 in a row before walking Galvis to lead off the fifth.
The heat was back on Harvey’s fastball, which averaged a hair under 93 mph in his first two starts. He was in the mid-90s this afternoon and blew it past Marmolejos and Moore in the second. Haniger grounded a 95 mph fastball to Ramón Urías in the third, but homered on a pitch clocked at 91.7 mph to tie the score after Sam Haggerty grounded a single into right field.
Galvis charged Ty France’s grounder, missed it and ended Harvey’s day at 89 pitches. Hyde brought in Scott, who stranded the runner.
“I’m pretty frustrated,” Harvey said. “I feel like that game should have been 2-0 and I should have been out there the whole game. I think after the second I kind of got a little nit-picky, I guess, around the zone, got behind some hitters. The counts were in the hitters’ favor a little bit too much, I thought, and it’s frustrating. I feel like I should be in that game in the seventh inning and there shouldn’t be any runs on the board.”
Harvey retired the side in order on 10 pitches in the first inning and his fastball sat 95-96 mph. He needed 24 in the second, but only because Urías failed to catch Torrens’ soft liner - it was scored a hit - and a bouncer to the mound produced a force rather than an anticipated double play.
Orioles starters posted a 5.77 ERA before today, fourth-highest in the majors, and their 53 innings were the sixth-lowest. The 34 runs allowed were tied with the Cubs for the seventh highest total.
He retired 10 of the first 11 batters before hitting Kyle Seager in the fourth. Torrens walked with two outs, but Trammell swung at the next pitch and bounced to the mound.
“Really impressive,” Hyde said. “I thought he threw the ball really well into the fifth inning and then gave up the two-run homer there with two outs. Fastball was 95-96, he was in total control into that fifth inning. Just, ground ball single and two-run homer to tie it. But I thought he threw the ball great.
“I don’t think we knew what to expect (this season). I know he had a good spring training, I like the way he threw the ball in the spring, was hoping it was going to carry over to the season and it has. He’s kept us in the game three times and had a chance to win today’s game, as well as the other two games that he started. He’s done a nice job for us. Now we need to swing the ball a little bit and get some run support.”
Mancini followed a two-out walk to Maikel Franco in the first by jumping on an 88 mph sinker and carrying it 429 feet with a 110.3 mph exit velocity, per Statcast. Pedro Severino and Ryan Mountcastle singled before Galvis popped up Gonzales’ 34th pitch.
The move to sixth in the order seems to be agreeing with Mountcastle, who had three hits in Tuesday’s doubleheader. He’s actually hit safely in six consecutive games, but the strikeouts were piling up before the switch.
Mountcastle hasn’t struck out in his last two games.
His single was the last hit by the Orioles until Franco’s single off Rafael Montero in the sixth. Mancini grounded into his fifth double play of the season, most in the majors. The Phillies’ Jean Segura is second with four.
The Galvis walk broke Gonzales streak, and his bat flip almost took out the catcher and plate umpire. Gonzales retired the next three batters, with Ryan McKenna lining hard to a leaping Crawford.
“Really good first inning from an offensive standpoint,” Hyde said, “and then not much else after to take a little pressure off our pitchers.”
Cedric Mullins went 0-for-3 to end his hitting streak at 15 games.
Here’s the Game 2 lineup:
Mullins CF, Stewart LF, Santander RF, Mancini 1B, Franco 3B, Mountcastle DH, Ruiz 2B, Galvis SS, Sisco C.