Fernando Rodney stepped off the rubber, wheeled and threw to second base to catch stealing David Lough, ending most oddly a Mariners four-game-losing streak and gaining career save No. 200. However the 4-3 win over the Orioles happened, a crowd of 36,930 at Safeco on a cloudless Saturday was delighted.
If not for three unearned Baltimore (57-46) runs in the eighth inning, or a Seattle base-running gaffe in the third, the game would not have come down to Baltimore’s own base-running gaffe to end the game.
Baby steps, right?
“We had a chance to really open it up, (but) we had some base-running errors,” manager Lloyd McClendon said, referencing a play in the third inning in which Kendrys Morales was picked off as he attempted to retreat to third base.
“But maybe this was the way God wanted it — Rodney to get his 200th (save) and me on the edge of my seat,” added McClendon, smiling.
Once again Chris Young (9-6, 3.04 ERA) gave Seattle a chance to win. Young struck out a season-high eight over seven scoreless innings. He allowed two hits — a single and a double to Delmon Young — and walked three while hitting a batter.
“He did an outstanding job for us today,” McClendon said. “I think he’s getting stronger. I think we’ve been really conscious of watching his pitch count, giving him that sixth day whenever we have that opportunity and I think it’s paying off.”
Young continues to be a tough matchup because of his lanky 6-foot, 10-inch frame creating a downward angle that makes it hard for hitters to square up the baseball.
“You don’t (often) see that angle as a hitter,” said McClendon. ”It’s very difficult (because) you think it’s coming down, but it doesn’t.”
Seattle (54-50) scored three times in the third against Baltimore starter Bud Norris. But in the process of manufacturing runs, the M’s squandered an opportunity for an even bigger inning with a second base-running mistake in as many games.
Jesus Sucre led off the inning with a bloop single into right. After James Jones struck out, Dustin Ackley lined a double to left on a check swing. The Orioles intentionally walked Cano with first base open, opting to pitch to the newcomer Morales instead. But Norris plunked Morales in the leg to force in the first run.
Three hitters later, things got strange. With the bases still loaded and the Mariners up 2-0 with two outs, Logan Morrison hit a single to left to score Cano, but a hesitant Morales was picked off as Seager ran up his back at third.
“That’s tough,” McClendon said. “Kendrys is not that fleet afloot. (Third base coach) Rich (Donnelly) had held him up and (the left fielder) bobbled the ball. It’s hard for a guy of Kendrys’s size to get started again. And Seager saw the ball get away, he assumed he was coming . . . You don’t practice that.”
If the fifth inning, Ackley delivered a second double and came home on Cano’s RBI double to give Seattle a 4-0 lead. Ackley was 2-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored in his return to the second spot in the order as a fill-in for Endy Chavez. The latter was a late scratch due to a left pinky injury.
McClendon said he spoke with Ackley about hitting at the top of the order earlier in the week. It’s something both have interest in.
“We talked about last time it happened and it didn’t go so well,” McClendon said. “But I think he’s all for it and (he) was pretty good today.”
For his part, Ackley thinks he’s been ready for a move up in the order.
“I told him I’m in a position where my swing feels the same every day and I have that confidence that I need to hit wherever I’m going to hit,” said Ackley. “Whether it’s one, two, seven, eight or nine, I’m not going to try to change my mindset at all.”
In the eighth, reliever Danny Farquhar, after getting two outs, put runners on first and second with a walk and hit batter. McClendon pulled Farquhar in favor of Joe Beimel. After a wild pitch advanced runners into scoring position, Beimel got a ground ball from Chris Davis, only to see Seager whiff and both runners score. Yoervis Medina gave up an RBI single to J.J. Hardy before ending the inning.
“I’m not sure what happened,” McClendon said. “Danny had things under control. He had five pitches, two outs and then he hits a guy. His two-seamer was running all over the place and (he) couldn’t control it. Beimel made a nice pitch, we just didn’t make the play.”
Corey Hart played right field in place of Chavez . . . The nine wins for Young are his most since nine in 2007 with San Diego . . . Ackley hit safely in eight of last nine games with five multi-hit games. He is batting .358 (24-for-67) since July 1 . . . LHP James Paxton will throw 75-80 pitches Sunday in his second rehab start for Class AAA Tacoma. Paxton will travel with the team on the road trip to Cleveland and Baltimore.