“I couldn’t have hoped for anything like what he’s done this year,” Showalter said of Johnson. “I could have, but there’s not a day goes by I don’t appreciate him and understand how hard it is for him to do what he’s doing at the level he’s at.”
Every baserunner was at a premium thanks to the pitching – which was also probably aided by two tired offenses.
Saunders, making his fifth start for the Orioles, once again dominated the Mariners, a team he faced often when he played for the Los Angeles Angels. Despite the no decision, Saunders is 8-1 in 15 career starts against Seattle and 6-0 with a 2.12 ERA at Safeco Field. He hasn’t allowed more than one earned run in his last seven starts in Seattle, pitching to a minuscule 0.94 ERA now in those Safeco starts.
“I didn’t know that. I don’t know, I like pitching here,” Saunders said. “It kind of fits my eye. … Just go out there, pitch to contact, throw strikes and everything will take care of itself.”
His only mistake was a solo homer by Gutierrez in the fourth – after Saunders had retired the first 10 Mariners in order. His counterpart, Hernandez, was just as good, lasting eight innings striking out eight batters while allowing six hits and a walk.
The Orioles managed just one run against him – and it was a gamble that worked. Chris Davis reached on a fielder’s choice in the fourth. As part of a hit and run, Davis dashed toward second as Reynolds singled to center and kept going.
Orioles third base coach DeMarlo Hale waved Davis around, and the burly designated hitter beat the relay throw to score from first.
Then, the Orioles went into their patented stall offense until striking again in the 11th. The win cemented their first sweep of the Mariners since May 1997, the last year the Orioles had a winning season and made the playoffs.
“Apparently everything we’re doing this year we’ve never done in 15 years,” Jones said. “So just add another thing to the list that we haven’t done in 15 years.”