Matt Wieters tied a career high with five runs batted in and Steve Johnson won his starting debut in the majors as Baltimore beat the Mariners 9-2 Wednesday night for a three-game series sweep.
BALTIMORE — The Mariners left Seattle last week riding a wave of energy, believing they had finally turned a corner.
Instead, they’ve found more misery waiting around that bend. And after getting swept by the Orioles, much of the good vibe they took on the road has disintegrated.
Their 9-2 loss to the Orioles on Wednesday at Camden Yards was dismal in just about every way, except for a two-run homer by Kyle Seager,
The Mariners have lost five of the first six games on the trip, with a visit to Anaheim for a three-game series looming. Remember when they were starting to creep back into the fringes of the wild-card race — 7 ½ games out when the trip began? Now, not so much, after falling 11 games under .500 at 51-62.
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“It sucked,” losing pitcher Kevin Millwood said of the Orioles series. “We started playing pretty well and didn’t play bad in New York. We didn’t play real well here at all. Say what you want to say, but we just didn’t play well.”
A night after a walkoff Seattle loss in 14 innings, Millwood struggled in his brief outing, lasting just four innings and giving up eight hits and seven runs. In two games since the trade deadline, when there was speculation Millwood would be traded, he has pitched 10 innings, given up 17 hits and has a 9.90 earned-run average.
“We didn’t help him out at all early,” Mariners manager Eric Wedge said, noting some defensive lapses. “Of those first four (Baltimore) runs, maybe one of them would have happened. We didn’t make any plays. We didn’t make any errors, but we didn’t make any plays. At the big-league level, we’ve got to make those plays.
“Four or five different things that happened early on just can’t happen. You can’t give them those opportunities and let them take advantage of it because we’re not doing what we should be doing out there defensively.”
Wedge also wasn’t happy with Munenori Kawasaki’s at-bat during an early scoring opportunity. With the bases loaded and one out in the second, Kawasaki elected to bunt — and not well. It went back to the pitcher, who easily got the force at home, and the Mariners didn’t score.
“I don’t want that,” Wedge said. “I told him that. I don’t want him to bunt with the bases loaded there. I don’t even know where that came from. I told him, don’t do that again.”
The 37-year-old Millwood, who had a 4-16 record for the Orioles in 2010, fell to 4-10 this season.
“The ball was up,” he said. “It was good to see some old friends and be able to talk to those guys, but it’s no fun stinkin’.”
The winning pitcher, Steve Johnson, had quite a night in his major-league starting debut and second career appearance. The right-hander is a Baltimore native and son of Dave Johnson, former Orioles pitcher and current broadcaster. The younger Johnson earned his first major-league win 23 years to the day his dad did the same for the Orioles.
Johnson nearly struck out the side on nine pitches in the first inning before the third hitter, Jesus Montero, singled on an 0-2 pitch. Instead, Johnson fanned the side on 12 pitches — all strikes.
In six innings, he struck out nine and gave up just the two runs resulting from Seager’s 13th homer, his second in as many nights. Johnson, by the way, came to the Orioles from the Dodgers in a trade for ex-Mariner George Sherrill, who went to Baltimore in the ill-fated Erik Bedard trade.
Many Mariners noted that Johnson was “sneaky fast.”
“It was riding up in the zone pretty good,” catcher John Jaso said. “I think a lot of it, including myself, was getting ourselves out. My first at-bat when I struck out, there was probably only one strike thrown and I swung at two balls out of the zone.”
Meanwhile, the Orioles offense was breaking loose for 14 hits, with Matt Wieters continuing to lead the way. A night after homering twice, Wieters drove in five runs with a pair of two-run doubles and an RBI ground out. Ex-Mariner Adam Jones had three hits — and was hit in the ribs in the eighth by a Tom Wilhelmsen pitch.
One bright spot for the Mariners, besides Seager, was the work of reliever Carter Capps in his second major-league outing. Replacing Millwood in the fifth, Capps worked two scoreless innings, fanning two. He reached 100 mph a couple of times but was mostly working 98 and 99.
A night after having 18 hits in a loss, the Mariners managed just six. They have scored just 16 runs in six games on the trip (2.67 per game), and seven came in Tuesday’s loss.
“I don’t think we’ve been playing bad; we just haven’t been hitting,” Wedge said. “We didn’t play well tonight. This is really the first game we didn’t play well. We fought well in New York. Obviously, last night was a battle. Tonight we didn’t play particularly well.”
Larry Stone: 206-464-3146 or firstname.lastname@example.org.