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July 24, 2014 at 10:46 PM

Orioles 4, Mariners 0 — shutout again

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Box score …. 07.24.14 Box Score

Note: The Mariners didn’t announce the roster move for Kendrys Morales, but Jesus Montero was packing up his gear postgame. 

On a day when they traded for a designated hitter presumably to bolster their tepid offense, the Mariners served up another frustrating reminder of why they made the deal to acquire Kendrys Morales and why they may need to make a one or two more deals for additional help.

The Mariners managed just five hits – five singles – in a lackluster and feckless 4-0 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Thursday night at Safeco Field. They fell to 53-49, losing their lead in the race for the second wild card. It was the 12th time they were shutout this season.

“We are not swinging the bat well right now,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “We just have to keep grinding it out. Tonight was not a pretty night. When you don’t hit, you don’t look good, you look flat and all things.”

The five hits?

  • Dustin Ackley had a line drive single to left in the second inning.
  • Corey Hart had a line drive single to left in fourth inning.
  • Chris Taylor, who was making his big league debut, got his first major league in his second at-bat with a soft liner up the middle in the fifth inning.
  • Kyle Seager led off with a single to right to start the seventh.
  • Stefen Romero had a line drive into right field in the eighth.

That’s it. That’s the list.

They call came off of Orioles starter Wei-Yin Chen, who pitched eight shutout innings and issued one walk and struck out two batters to improve to 11-3 on the season.

“He pitched well,” McClendon said. “You can’t take anything away from him.”

The one walk was the closest the Mariners came to scoring. James Jones coaxed the walk from Chen to start the game. He stole second and moved to third on Romero’s ground ball the right side.

But Jones was thrown out at the plate on Robinson Cano’s swinging bunt. Chen made a nice play, coming off the mound, fielding the ball and flipping it from his glove to catcher Caleb Joseph, getting Jones as he slid in.

Manager Lloyd McClendon asked for a replay of the play under the new plate/collision rule, asserting that Joseph was blocking the plate before he had the ball.

“His foot was in the way,” Jones said. “I didn’t understand the rule, if I could run through him or what. I didn’t know what to do. He was definitely in front of the plate. The only thing I could have done is slide away and hit the plate from the side (with his hand).”

Jones believed he understood the rule as it was taught to him this spring.

“They said they would give us a lane, but I felt like I had no lane,” he said.

After a review of more than three minutes, the call was upheld.

“I’m just a little puzzled with that,” McClendon said. “He didn’t have the ball. His foot was in front of the plate. He caught the ball and blocked it. To me that’s blocking the plate. I don’t know how else you can describe it.”

The Mariners had no other legitimate scoring opportunities beyond that since no other runners made it into scoring position.

Meanwhile, Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma (8-5) pitched six scoreless innings in his seven-inning out. But that one inning – a four-run third – torpedoed the start and put the Mariners behind 4-0 – a deficit, which seems to be insurmountable of late.

There really were no signs that such an implosive inning was on the horizon. Iwakuma had allowed one hit through the first two inning and struck out Chris Davis and J.J. Hardy in succession in the second inning.

Iwakuma gave up three straight singles to start the inning with Nick Markakis driving in Ryan Flaherty on the third hit to put the Orioles up 1-0. Iwakuma wished the next hit would have been a single. He hung a 79 mph slider of the first pitch to designated hitter Delmon Young, who pounced on it hit a rocket line drive over the all in left field for a three-run homer.

“I was trying to get a slider down and away for a strike,” Iwakuma said through translator Antony Suzuki.

It was one of a few mistake pitches – all in that inning.

“He elevated three pitches, other than that he threw the ball good,” McClendon said.

Iwakuma was fighting his mechanics.

“I didn’t start to well today,” Iwakuma said. “I was flying open. I was trying to make the adjustment on the mound. I was able to make th adjustment at the end but it was too late.”

Down 4-0, that was it for the Mariners.

Iwakuma followed with four shutout innings, retiring 12 of 13 batters and the bullpen provided two shutout innings of work.

But there would be no runs for the Mariners on Thursday night. Morales arrives on Friday.

Taylor, who was called up before Thursday’s game, received a standing ovation fro the announced crowd of 19,621 for his first major league hit.

“It felt great,” Taylor said. “It took some of the weight off my shoulders. I was able to finally relax and breath. It felt good to get that first one.

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