Chris Tillman, making his first major-league start of the season, shut down the Mariners. And Adam Jones, who was traded with Tillman and three others by the Mariners in 2008 for Erik Bedard, hit an upper-deck home run, his 20th homer of the season.
The Mariners ended another offensively challenged homestand Wednesday without a bang, and manager Eric Wedge wasn’t going to stand for any whimpering.
Wedge, whose vaunted patience was tested more than once during the 10 games at Safeco, instead issued a manifesto of sorts before the team headed out to Oakland.
The Mariners, less than 24 hours after Baltimore’s Wei-Yin Chen took a perfect game into the seventh inning, watched another young Orioles starter, Chris Tillman, take a one-hitter into the ninth.
Once again, a late Mariner rally came up short, and they fell, 4-2, before a restless holiday crowd of 21,982.
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The team’s inability to hit at home is becoming a growing problem, bordering on a crisis. The Mariners hit .175 during the homestand (which produced a 4-6 record), and now have a .195 average at Safeco through the first 41 games — more than half the home schedule. They are scoring at a pace of 2.85 runs per game, which goes a long way toward explaining their 16-25 home record.
The Mariners’ offensive numbers on the road, by contrast, are respectable, but Wedge takes no solace in the fact that they are heading out of town for three games against the A’s before the All-Star break.
“I would rather stay here and grind through this and figure it out,” he said. “That’s my attitude, and that should be their attitude, too. You can’t run away from it. You have to look it right in the eye. This is where we play. It’s a great place to play. These guys have to figure out how to be at their very best here. That’s what we’re going to keep pushing to them.”
The Mariners also have to figure out what to do with Hector Noesi, who had another lackluster start and absorbed his 11th loss, most in the majors. In five innings, Noesi gave up seven hits and four runs, including an Adam Jones homer, his 20th, and the 20th allowed by Noesi this season in 96-2/3 innings.
“I was not good today,” Noesi said. “I was missing my spots.”
Wedge didn’t make any guarantees that Noesi would stay in the rotation — or on the major-league roster.
“He has to be more aggressive,” Wedge said. “We just need him to take that next step, to the point we know what we’re getting from him.
“That’s a good question, a fair question,” he added, when asked about Noesi’s status. “We’re in the process of evaluating everything. I’ve been very clear, I’ve been very patient. I think we’ve been patient as an organization. But I think there’s a time and a place to make some changes. As we head into the break, we’re going to evaluate where we are with everybody.”
This game was a painful reminder of the ill-fated trade from February 2008 that brought Erik Bedard to Seattle for a package that included Jones and Tillman. And not the first one. In May 2011, Tillman limited the Mariners to three hits and a run in a 4-2 Baltimore victory, in which Jones hit a two-run triple.
Tillman was even better in his 2012 debut, after spending the entire season at Class AAA Norfolk. Through eight innings, the only hit he allowed was Michael Saunders’ ground single up the middle in the fourth that barely eluded shortstop J.J. Hardy.
Tillman was still throwing as high as 97 mph in the ninth when Saunders reached on an error. He struck out Casper Wells, but after John Jaso delivered a double, Orioles manager Buck Showalter pulled Tillman, who had thrown 125 pitches. He struck out seven and walked two in 8-1/3 innings.
With All-Star closer Jim Johnson on the mound, the Mariners got two runs on a Kyle Seager ground out and Justin Smoak single before Miguel Olivo, representing the tying run, flew out to deep right. Olivo had entered the game in the fifth inning when Jesus Montero suffered a mild concussion from a foul tip off his mask.
Saunders, a teammate of Tillman’s in Seattle’s minor-league system, was impressed with his improved command and velocity.
“I’ve never seen him sit at 93 to 95 mph,” Saunders said. “He was throwing strikes, mixing up his pitches, throwing a pretty good curveball 12-6. He did a good job not leaving the ball over the plate. That was the biggest difference, to me, from last year and seeing him a few years back. He’s definitely added a few miles per hour onto his velocity. … He was a big-leaguer out there today.”
That said, Wedge is still dissatisfied with his hitters.
“Every position player out there has a job to do, and they’re not getting it done right now,” he said. “That’s obvious.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
On Twitter @StoneLarry
|How Mariners hitters fared in innings 1-6 of the 3-game Orioles series:|
|Monday (W, 6-3)||22||1||5||.227|
|Tuesday (L, 5-4)||18||0||0||.000|
|Wednesday (L, 4-2)||19||0||1||.053|