BALTIMORE — This is how it’s supposed to work when everything is right. The hitters at the top of the lineup reaching base and the hitters in the middle of the order driving them home.
It hasn’t happened often for the Seattle Mariners this season, and certainly not since the All-Star break. But Saturday night at Camden Yards it all came together in a 6-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Newly acquired Austin Jackson, who was batting leadoff, and hot-hitting Dustin Ackley batting behind him, combined for five hits, scored four runs and reached base six times.
Robinson Cano and Kendrys Morales drove in five of the runs, and baseball, particularly scoring runs, seemed pretty easy on this night for Seattle. The Mariners are now 41-10 when scoring four or more runs in a game.
The first example of how everything was working properly came in the fifth inning with the game tied 1-1.
Jackson picked up his first hit as a Mariner with a leadoff single. Ackley, who has been one of the team’s most productive hitters since the All-Star break, doubled to right field to put runners in scoring position.
Unlike past games, the Mariners didn’t squander this opportunity. Cano belted his eighth homer of the season, hammering a 1-1 changeup over the wall in right field to make it 4-1. All eight of his homers this season have come with runners on base. It was Cano’s 29th career home run against the Orioles — the most of any opponent—and his 15th homer at Camden Yards.
It happened again in the top of the ninth inning. Jackson came up with a two-out single to right field. Orioles manager Buck Showalter called on his fifth pitcher of the night — lefty T.J. McFarland—to face the left-handed hitting Ackley. But the move backfired. Ackley reached on infield single — his third hit of the game. McFarland hit Cano with a pitch to load the bases. Morales delivered some big insurance runs, hammering a single into right field to make it 6-2, which sent most of the 36,508 in attendance for the exits.
Besides the new look lineup, the Mariners welcomed starter James Paxton back from the disabled list. He wasn’t great, but showed hints of dominance, pitching 41/3 innings and giving up two runs on four hits with three walks and five strikeouts.
In the first inning, Paxton looked like a pitcher who hadn’t thrown in a major-league game since April 8. He walked Nick Markakis on five pitches to start the game and then served up a double to Manny Machado to put runners on second and third. Adam Jones scored Markakis with a ground ball to second. Paxton made sure things didn’t get worse, striking out Nelson Cruz and Delmon Young to end the inning.
It looked like his return to the mound might end sooner than expected. In the second inning he took a line drive from Caleb Joseph off the back of his right leg. He managed to get Joseph out at first, but was in clear pain. After meeting with manager Lloyd McClendon and trainer Rick Griffin, Paxton threw four warm-up pitches and remained in the game. He walked the next hitter he faced and was in trouble again. But Ackley helped him out with a nice sliding catch on Markakis’ soft liner to left field to end the inning.
Ackley then followed up his glove work with some yard work, tying the game in the top of the third inning with a solo homer to right field off Orioles’ starter Miguel Gonzalez.
Paxton couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. With his pitch count at 83, he was lifted for Dominic Leone, who got the final two outs of the inning and was credited with the victory.
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