SEATTLE —For some teams, four runs is an average night of production. For the Mariners in the past 30 games, that’s an offensive explosion.
Saturday afternoon, Seattle scored four runs and it felt like 40 considering its recent stretch of struggles.
Couple the four runs with another outstanding outing from Chris Young at Safeco Field, and the Mariners picked up a much-needed 4-3 victory over the Baltimore Orioles.
Seattle snapped a four-game losing streak and improved to 54-50.
Young gave the Mariners a brilliant performance, pitching seven shutout innings, giving up two hits, while striking out eight and walking three.
“He did an outstanding job for us today,” manager Lloyd McClendon said. “He really kept them off balance. I thought his secondary stuff was pretty sharp today and he had really good command of the fastball.”
Young improved to 9-6 on the season and lowered his earned-run average to 3.04. In 11 starts at Safeco, he’s 6-3 with a 2.21 ERA, having allowed just 17 earned runs in 691/3 innings pitched. Opponents are hitting just .178 against Young at home.
“I think he’s getting stronger,” McClendon said. “We’ve been very conscious watching his pitch count and giving him the sixth day whenever we have the opportunity and I think it’s paying off.”
Young had the Orioles completely flustered.
“It’s just the release point — you can’t teach 6-10,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said of Young’s height. “When you have the velocity out of it because the plane he throws at, the baseball is hard to center up.”
Young exited with a 4-0 lead after his seven innings. McClendon handed the game over to his bullpen, which has been outstanding all year.
Of course, the Mariners being the Mariners, it couldn’t be simple.
Up 4-0 going into the eighth inning, the normally stellar Seattle bullpen struggled and the normally sure-handed Kyle Seager committed a costly miscue that allowed Baltimore to fight back into the game.
Setup man Danny Farquhar relieved Young to start the eighth inning. He got two quick outs, but then hit Adam Jones with a pitch and walked Nelson Cruz.
McClendon called on Joe Beimel to face the ultrapowerful Chris Davis. A wild pitch from Beimel pushed both runners into scoring position. Still, Beimel did his job in the left-on-left matchup, getting Davis to hit a sharp ground ball to third base. It should have ended the inning. Seager, though, dropped to a knee to backhand the ball, but it went under his glove for an error, allowing the two runners to score.
McClendon then called on Yoervis Medina to keep it at 4-2. But he couldn’t do it, hanging a 1-2 slider to J.J. Hardy that led to a run-scoring single to left. Medina was able to close out the inning and Seattle still had the lead at 4-3.
“I’m not sure what happened,” McClendon said. “Danny had things under control and then he hit the guy. His two-seamer was running all over the place. Beimel made a nice pitch and we just didn’t make the play. These things happen.”
Fernando Rodney got the save — the 200th of his career — by pitching a scoreless ninth. But like most Rodney saves, there had to be a little drama. He put the tying run on first by walking pinch-hitter David Lough. Rodney got Nick Markakis to fly out to left for the second out. With two outs and Delmon Young at the plate, Lough broke for an attempted steal of second with Rodney still holding the ball on the mound. Rodney stepped off the rubber without balking and threw to second to get Lough easily.
“I saw him over my left shoulder,” Rodney said. “I stepped off and threw to second.”
Rodney fired his imaginary arrow postgame celebration right at a frustrated Lough.
“I had to, he left early,” Rodney said chuckling.
The four runs didn’t come easily for the Mariners. They picked up three in the third inning against Baltimore starter Bud Norris.
Seattle loaded the bases on a rare hit from Jesus Sucre, a check-swing double from Dustin Ackley and an intentional walk to Robinson Cano. Kendrys Morales delivered an RBI for the second consecutive game, taking a slider off his knee to push in a run.
“Norris has good stuff,” Ackley said. “Fortunately for us, he kind of yanked that slider and we were able to get a run on the board. I think that helped us for the rest of the game.”
Seager and Logan Morrison each added run-scoring singles in the inning to push it to 3-0.
Seattle tacked on another run in fifth inning on back-to-back doubles from Ackley and Cano to make it 4-0.
Coming into the game, the Mariners had scored just four runs in 37 innings. So this was an improvement. A few breaks at the plate certainly helped.