The M’s had a four-run lead against the Orioles but lost it as Ariel Miranda gave up four home runs in an 8-7 loss.
BALTIMORE — It’s over.
Perhaps that’s the only positive after the last five days of frustration and disappointment.
The Mariners left town Aug. 17 and return home to Seattle on Wednesday evening. A five-hour flight will allow the Mariners plenty of time to reflect on how it all went so wrong and how little time they have to get it right.
Their streakiness leads to exasperation. The have six- to eight-game runs when they look like playoff contenders, followed by maddening stretches of eight to 10 games when they make a difficult game seem impossible.
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They are in one those lulls now.
The Mariners squandered a six-run third inning and lost a four-run lead, thanks to yet another poor starting-pitching performance, and were swept by the Orioles with an 8-7 loss on Wednesday afternoon at Camden Yards. They have lost five games in a row, and get a day off Thursday.
“It was a disappointing to end to the road trip here in Baltimore,” manager Scott Servais said. “We’ll regroup. We have a day off tomorrow and we’ll travel back home and get back at it.”
For 12 days, the Mariners traveled up and down the East Coast, visiting four cities and playing 12 games in 14 days.
In the beginning, everything seemed gumdrops and rainbows. Seattle won the first two three-game series, against the Braves and Rays, and started the series at Yankee Stadium with a stunning 2-1 extra-innings win. They were 5-2 on the trip and looking to exceed the minimal hopes of a 6-6 split. But five losses later they are 66-68 and trending in the wrong direction with 28 games left to play.
“It was definitely a long trip, but we’ve got to play better than we did here and in New York,” said Mitch Haniger. “It’s going to be good to get back home and play in front of our own fans.”
Those fans are certain to be skeptical of a team that is sliding in the wild-card race. And given the state of their starting pitching — even with the addition of Mike Leake — and the current slumps of Robinson Cano and Kyle Seager, the Mariners have made it difficult to be optimistic.
The Orioles took the lead for good in the bottom of the eighth inning on Jonathan Schoop’s ground-ball RBI single off lefty Marc Rzepczynski , breaking a 7-7 tie. But this game, like so many this season, was lost in the middle innings when starter Ariel Miranda was handed a four-run lead and couldn’t keep the ball in the park.
Down 2-0 after Miranda allowed two runs in the second inning, including a solo homer to Trey Mancini, Seattle rallied for six runs in the third inning against Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez to take a four-run lead.
Nelson Cruz’s bases-loaded ground ball up the middle struck second base and ricocheted away from shortstop Tim Beckham to score two runs. Haniger followed with his first of three hits on the day, a ringing two-run double into left field to make it 4-2. The Mariner got another break in the inning when Mike Zunino’s bloop pop to center landed between two Orioles to score two runs and make it 6-2.
Miranda gave the runs back in the span of two innings and seven batters faced.
Welington Castillo, a Mariner for about 10 days in 2015, tormented Seattle with four hits. He blasted a two-run homer in the fourth and light-hitting Craig Gentry followed with a solo homer to make it 6-5. With one out in the fifth, Jonathan Schoop hit a solo homer to left to tie the game, ending Miranda’s outing. His final line: 4 1/3 innings, six earned runs on eight hits, includng four homers.
“It’s a good lineup, but the park might have factored a little into it,” he said about hitter-friendly Camden Yards through interpreter Fernando Alcala. “Obviously, the results were not positive today. I felt good mentally and physically, but a couple bad pitches that I made mistakes on and they made me pay.”
Miranda has given up 35 homers this season — the most in baseball.
“It’s part of the game, when you make pitches, guys take advantage of it,” he said.
With David Phelps leaving the game with more elbow issues, Edwin Diaz only available for one inning because of back spasms and Nick Vincent just getting back from elbow soreness, the Mariners tried to get creative with their bullpen after Haniger tied the game with a solo homer in the eighth.
Servais tried Christian Bergman in the eighth, but he gave up a leadoff single and was pulled with two outs and runners on first and second. The Mariners preferred the matchup of lefty Marc Rzepczynski vs. Schoop in hopes of getting a ground ball off a sinker. They got the ground ball. It was just out of the reach of a Mariners defender.