Saturday was one of the more frustrating days for the Seattle Mariners this season. They spotted Baltimore a three-run lead, the bullpen made things worse by serving up five more runs, and the offense couldn’t produce much against the worst pitching staff in baseball.
At one point after striking out in a hitless game, J.P. Crawford slammed his helmet on the ground. But, Sunday was a new day. The shortstop unleashed a 427-foot home run in the first inning to ignite a Mariners offense that unloaded all of those frustrations in a 13-3 win over the Orioles at T-Mobile Park.
All nine of Seattle’s starters reached base and scored at least once and eight of them recorded hits as the Mariners (35-47) earned their third series win of the month, and finished their seven-game homestand with a 4-3 record.
“That’s the beauty about this game,” Crawford said. “You’ve always got tomorrow, you’ve always got the next day to prove people wrong. You’ve always got the next day to try something new. Today was a good day.”
Crawford’s solo shot — his second homer of the season — was his first of a career-best four consecutive hits during an afternoon in which he also logged four RBIs, and started a streak of four consecutive innings during which the Mariners scored at least once.
“You can feel the vibe,” Crawford said. “It’s different in (the clubhouse) after a good win like that. Hopefully we keep it rolling.”
After the Orioles grabbed the lead on a Trey Mancini solo shot in the top of the first, Crawford’s homer evened the score. In the second, Hanser Alberto’s two-out RBI double again gave the Orioles a one-run lead, but Omar Narvaez crossed on a fielder’s choice for Seattle to again square things up at 2-2.
Then came the third, when the Mariners sent 13 batters to the plate, scored eight more runs, and kept the bases loaded for much of the marathon inning.
“We hit some balls in the right spots,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We certainly didn’t scorch all the balls in the big eight-run inning, but found some holes, had some good at-bats. Nice ballgame for us offensively. We wanted to get out and win this series, and have a positive homestand, which we were able to do.”
Smith walked to lead off the inning, and Crawford promptly singled him to third. Domingo Santana’s soft single that scored Smith. Crawford scored on a Narvaez sacrifice fly before Austin Nola notched his first big-league RBI on a single back up the middle that scored Santana.
Mac Williamson was later hit by a pitch with the bases loaded, plating Daniel Vogelbach, who was the only Mariners player to go hitless, although he did record a pair of walks. Then, a Gordon single scored Seager as Seattle continued to carousel runners around the bases.
In his second plate appearance of the inning, Smith singled to score Nola, and Crawford recorded his third hit of the game on an RBI single that scored Williamson and Gordon to make it 10-2.
The excessive run support helped even out another shaky start by rookie left-hander Yusei Kikuchi, who allowed three earned runs on five hits in six innings. He walked five, struck out three, threw a wild pitch and recorded a balk on 94 pitches.
“Kind of a strange day for him in the fact that it took him a while to get going,” Servais said. “Certainly when we put the big lead up there he calmed down and was much more aggressive after that.
“He threw some good changeups today. That was probably the one thing that stood out for me. It’s a pitch that he’s working with, tinkering with. It’s an effective pitch against their lineup, and he went to it today later in the ballgame. I thought he threw some really good ones. Positive there.”
Baltimore quickly ticked Kikuchi’s pitch count up to 48 in the first two innings. He logged all five of his walks in the first two frames, faced 12 batters and recorded a balk in the second before eventually striking out Pedro Severino on three pitches to end the threat.
His final four innings were smoother, after the Mariners had built the comfortable lead, though he did allow the Orioles to scratch across one more run in the sixth on a fielder’s choice. He said the sizeable lead allowed him to experiment with his changeup more than usual, and it could be a more effective pitch moving forward.
“My changeup was actually hitting my spots when I needed it,” Kikuchi said through interpreter Justin Novak. “From the last game, I thought it would be a good pitch for me to use going forward. ... After today, I feel like I have the confidence to use it more in tight situations and tight games, and that’s what I want to do working forward.”
The Mariners tacked on two more runs in the fourth on Williamson’s fourth homer of the season, and one in the eighth on a sac fly by Crawford that scored Williamson to make it 13-3.
Baltimore didn’t score again after Kikuchi’s exit. Making his Mariners debut, Matt Carasiti allowed a double in the seventh, but struck out the side. Mike Wright closed the final two innings in his first appearance since he was designated for assignment in May and later cleared waivers, recording a pair of strikeouts.