Thanks to a three-run homer from Nelson Cruz, the Mariners had a 4-1 lead, but a bad game from starting pitcher Taijuan Walker allowed the injury- and illness-plagued Orioles to revive for an 9-4 triumph Tuesday night at Camden Yards in Baltimore, where a nine-game Seattle (17-21) road trip began with a thud (box score). The final two runs were unearned after an error by RF Cruz and a passed ball by C Mike Zunino.
In the sixth inning, back-to-back doubles from Alejandro De Aza and Caleb Joseph gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead off reliever Danny Farquhar. The lead went to 7-4 when Jimmy Paredes brought home Joseph with an opposite-field home run.
Leadoff hitter Seth Smith hit the game’s fourth pitch for a solo home run, then saved a run in the bottom of the first when he pulled back a fly ball from Adam Jones with a leaping catch that denied fans in the first row of seats.
In the third, after a walk and single, Cruz celebrated his return to Baltimore with a three-run homer. But beyond the homers, the Mariners had only four other hits as Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez went seven innings and struck out eight.
After a strong previous appearance against San Diego, Walker was mostly terrible, throwing 71 pitches in 3.2 innings while give up four walks, seven hits and four runs. A five-hit third inning tied the game at 4 before Farquhar came in to get the last out. Then Farquhar gave up all three runs in the sixth.
Manager Lloyd McClendon on Walker’s start: “His command wasn’t there, and he struggled with his velocity as well. It certainly was not one of his best outings. It’s unfortunate because we scored some runs.”
Cruz in his first at-bat was greeted warmly by the Camden Yards crowd of 19,494. He hit an American League-high 40 homers last year, his one and one season in Baltimore. “He handled himself with a lot of class here, and everybody would have liked to have him,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter told MLB.com. “We feel lucky he passed our way. I’ve known Nelson for a long time — same guy he was when we first got him from Texas. He’s one of those guys that earlier in (2014) spring, guys we’re asking me, ‘Is this for real?'” . . . McClendon was pleased to get C Wellington Castillo, 28, from the Cubs in a trade for reliever Yoervis Medina. “It gives us a lot more depth in our organization as a whole,” he said before the game. “From that perspective, it’s a pretty good darn baseball move. To think how physical and tough catching is and the number of catchers that have gone down this year, if something were to happen to Zunino, I’m not sure that we had the depth in our system that would be ready to perform at this level.”