Arrieta exits early as Orioles fall to Mariners, 4-3

Starter lasts just 2 1/3 innings, allows four runs; offensive rally falls short

May 30, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE — They all are starting to feel the same, from the pitching staff's absolute neglect of the strike zone to the starters' inability to get deep into the game to the offense's inability to do much of anything except squander opportunities.

When the Orioles left their personal house of horrors otherwise known as the Oakland Coliseum on Sunday, they hoped things would be different. Instead, Monday's 4-3 loss to the Seattle Mariners before an announced Memorial Day crowd of 22,819 at Safeco Field brought more of the agonizing same.

"It's frustrating, but we're doing a lot of things that are frustrating," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "It's not just hitting with runners in scoring position. We're not being aggressive, both in the field and at the plate, that we can be. We need to get back to that soon."

Starter Jake Arrieta lasted a career-low 21/3 innings, done in by a failure to throw strikes that resulted in consecutive walks with the bases loaded and Ichiro Suzuki's come-backer that drilled the right-hander in the left shin.

Aside from Mark Reynolds' upper-deck home run, the offense was nonexistent for seven innings, and the Orioles couldn't get the big hit in the eighth and ninth innings when they finally got a few base runners. After an RBI single by Nick Markakis and a run-scoring error by Mariners third baseman Chone Figgins on Vladimir Guerrero's ground ball, Luke Scott stranded runners on the corners in a one-run game in the eighth. The Orioles (24-28) couldn't push a run across in the ninth after Nolan Reimold led off with an infield single off Seattle closer Brandon League.

League, who had blown two saves against the Orioles this month, retired Reynolds on a flyout and got Robert Andino to hit into a game-ending double play, a fitting end to the Orioles' fourth straight defeat and first this season at the hands of the Mariners (27-26).

"Very similar scripts, so to speak," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said, comparing the latest loss to the previous three on the road trip. "We'd like to change that script."

That won't happen until one of the Orioles' starters begins to pump the strike zone and one of their hitters decides the time is right to mix in a couple of extra-base hits -- or any hit, for that matter --with a runner in scoring position.

The Orioles have totaled just 11 runs over the past four games. They went 1-for-10 on Monday with runners in scoring position and are 4-for-31 in such situations on the road trip. They also stranded six runners and have left 28 on base during this skid. They have just three extra-base hits over the past 36 innings, and two of those came Monday on Reynolds' third-inning homer off Mariners starter Doug Fister (3-5) and Scott's leadoff double in the fifth.

Fittingly, Scott never even moved up a base as both Reimold and Reynolds grounded out and Andino went down on strikes, one of Fister's career-high nine strikeouts.

"It's one of those things where if a guy hits a ball into left-center field, OK. But if you make an out there, it's got to be to the other way," Showalter said of the offense's failure to score Scott after his leadoff double. "I don't care what the score is, you need to get that run across. You got a man on second and third and nobody out or a man on second and nobody out, you should at least score a run, at the minimum. That's frustrating."

Not to be outdone on this road trip, Orioles starters have allowed 15 runs (13 earned) on 29 hits and 12 walks, pitching to a 6.50 ERA. Arrieta (6-3) authored perhaps the worst performance during the stretch as he surrendered four runs on four hits and four walks while getting just seven outs.

And it could have been worse, but Alfredo Simon inherited Arrieta's bases-loaded-and-one-out jam and recorded back-to-back strikeouts of Carlos Peguero and Figgins to keep the Orioles' deficit at three runs. Simon pitched 32/3 scoreless innings, and Pedro Viola retired all five batters he faced.

"I'm pretty upset about this one," Arrieta said. "Just couldn't give the team what I needed to give them. It's real frustrating to go out there, especially after a sweep. I knew what I wanted to do today. To only get seven outs is pretty frustrating. To come out of the game with the bases loaded, put Simon in a tight spot -- which he did very well in -- just doesn't feel good. I need to forget about this one as quickly as I can. I know I'm not going to be able to, but I have to find a way to kind of flush it and get over it."

Arrieta also has to find a way to start throwing more strikes. His four walks Monday were a season high, and he has issued 31 in 631/3 innings this season. In his past five outings, two of which he went four innings or less in, Arrieta has allowed 16 walks in 24 innings.

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