The comparisons and contrasts keep jabbing at the Orioles like heavyweight fighters. Sticking and moving, sticking and moving. And there’s the occasional big blow that sends them to the canvas again.
Rio Ruiz strikes out to end the second inning, flips his bat to the ground, drops his helmet and gloves and walks away from the pile in disgust. Seattle’s Dylan Moore leads off the next inning and hits a home run on the first pitch thrown by Bruce Zimmermann.
Mariners starter Justin Dunn strikes out three batters in the fourth after hitting Trey Mancini, and Mitch Haninger deposits a changeup into the Orioles bullpen in the fifth to break a tie.
With the offense still unable to cover for the occasional lapses in pitching, the Orioles lost again 2-1 before an announced crowd of 5,060 at Camden Yards.
The sweep leaves the Orioles at 5-8 as they head to Texas for a three-game series against the Rangers.
Ruiz singled with two outs in the seventh, but Freddy Galvis bounced to the mound. The inning began with Maikel Franco getting ahead 3-0 against new reliever Keynan Middleton, swinging at a pitch out of the zone and grounding out.
It stood alone, just like Mancini’s two-run shot in Game 1.
Zimmermann, the Baltimore native and Loyola Blakefield graduate, threw 64 pitches in four innings and did some littering. He allowed three hits and walked three batters, but the only run came on Moore’s big swing.
Two ground balls to open the fifth were followed by Haniger’s second home run of the day and singles by Ty France and Kyle Seager. Zimmermann received a mound visit and retired Luis Torrens on a fly ball that pushed Anthony Santander to the out-of-town scoreboard.
“Without his best stuff today,” said manager Brandon Hyde. “I thought you saw more balls than normal. I just didn’t think he had his command. And with that being said, he goes five innings and gives up two runs, gives us a chance to win. Shows what kind of pitcher he is and what kind of pitcher he’s going to be with going out there without his best stuff and only giving up a handful of hits and two runs. I just thought it’s outstanding the way he’s pitching, the way he’s keeping us in games.
“Love his pitch mix. I just didn’t think he was as sharp today as he had been the last couple starts, but with that being said, two runs given up, you’re going to win more games than not when that happens.”
Zimmermann failed to complete six innings for the first time in three starts. He was removed after the fifth with his pitch count at 87.
“I definitely didn’t have as good of fastball command, so that kind of put me behind from the get-go as far as just having to battle more each at-bat,” he said. “Kind of relied on my off-speed a little bit more today, for the most part I was able to get it over. The breaking ball was a little sharper than last outing, which helped, because we made an adjustment working on that this week, and that was good to see. Just didn’t have quite the command that I normally do, especially with being able to go in on guys, which sets up everything else for me.
“With that lacking, it was just a lot more of a battle for me today. And the tempo with my mechanics was a little bit off, so that’s something to look into this week, but nothing too serious, I would say. Just didn’t have quite the command that I normally do, and that’s tough as a starting pitcher, so it was just a battle.”
Travis Lakins Sr. should have retired the side in order in the sixth on three grounders to Franco, but the ball tore through Mancini’s mitt rather than settling in it for the final out. Chance Sisco threw out Taylor Trammell attempting to steal.
Mancini chucked his mitt into the dugout after the error. He slammed his helmet after grounding out to end the sixth. The equipment also took a beating today.
Cole Sulser, the 27th man today, allowed a hit and struck out two batters in a scoreless seventh. He’s returning to the alternate training site.
The bats were silenced in the first game after the first inning. DJ Stewart singled in the third inning of the second game and was stranded. Mancini didn’t budge after being hit in the fourth.
Dunn walked eight batters in 4 2/3 innings in his first start and averages 7.6 per nine innings in the majors. The only free pass through five innings today was issued to Santander in the first.
“I thought we were too aggressive on him,” Hyde said.
Stewart walked to lead off the sixth and advanced on a passed ball, but reliever Will Vest snared Santander’s line drive and doubled off Stewart, who slapped the ground with both hands as he knelt on the bag.
The Orioles were down again. And out.
“I just thought that was pretty bad luck there,” Hyde said. “Tony Santander with a nice job putting the ball in play with two strikes and a pitcher catching the ball off the ground on a line drive. You don’t see that very often. Just bad luck for us. Kind of the way he finishes his pitches, where his glove was was right where the ball was on the ground. Nothing DJ Stewart could do, either, and just didn’t go our way there.”
The first homestand ends with the Orioles going 1-6.
“I don’t think there’s any frustration in the clubhouse right now,” Zimmermann said. “It’s the beginning of a very long season. Some guys are getting going, other guys are finding their way, and it’s just about getting that chemistry in the clubhouse, which I think is really coming along. So, I don’t think there’s anybody pressing too much about how it’s going.
“That’s the beauty of a baseball season, it’s 162 games, so we’ve got a long way to go and we’ve seen some positives, for sure. And it was a tough schedule this past week on any team, so moving forward I think the guys are ready to just get on a roll here and start swinging it and really getting some good innings. Looking forward to the road trip and then coming back to Camden.”