BALTIMORE—The first Orioles homestand of the season is over. It’s one they’d like to forget.
They lost six of seven games, including both ends of a doubleheader to the Seattle Mariners on Thursday. They scored just three runs in the two games, wasting solid starting pitching from Matt Harvey in Game 1 and Bruce Zimmermann in Game 2.
Zimmermann allowed two solo home runs, and the Orioles lost, 2-1, to the Mariners before 5,060 at Oriole Park. Seattle beat the Orioles, 4-2, in the first game, scoring all four runs in innings fix and six.
Zimmermann gave up a home run to Dylan Moore to begin the third. Mitch Haniger hit the game winner on a changeup in the middle of plate with two outs in the fifth.
“I didn’t have my best command and I was still able to battle through five innings,” said Zimmermann, who threw 40 balls in 87 pitches. “I wish I had a couple of pitches back that found their way over the fence. For the most part, even though I’m not happy with how I pitched, I am with battling and give my team a chance.”
Zimmermann allowed two runs on six hits in five innings, walking three and striking out two. He had gone six innings in his previous two starts.
“Without his best stuff today,” manager Brandon Hyde said. “That being said, he goes five innings and gives up two runs and gives us a chance to win. That shows you what kind of pitcher he is, and what kind of pitcher he’s going to be.
“That’s outstanding the way he’s pitching, the way he’s keeping us in games. I love his pitch mix. I didn’t think he was as sharp today as he was the last couple of starts. That being said, two runs given up. You’re going to win more games than not when that happens.”
In the 14 innings of play on Thursday, the Orioles had just three runs on seven hits. They’re 5-8 after starting the season 3-0.
Zimmermann said the team’s lack of offense doesn’t put more pressure on him.
“That’s the last thing I want to do,” he said. “That’s the last thing any pitcher really wants to do when that’s happening. My job is to go out there and make pitches and get us back in the dugout, three runs or less in six innings. That’s what I’m trying to do each time.
“We’ll get going. We’ve seen spurts of it so far. Guys are starting to swing it a lot better. I’ll take care of my job, and those guys will take care of theirs. We’ll sync up, and we’ll win some ballgames here. Right now, my job is to pitch and give my team a chance to win.”
The Orioles began the season with a three-game sweep in Boston, lost two of three to the New York Yankees and came home and lost three straight to the Red Sox.
After a rainout on Monday, the Orioles and Mariners split a doubleheader on Tuesday. Another rainout on Wednesday forced a doubleheader that began at 12:35 p.m. on Thursday.
Justin Dunn, who allowed eight walks in 4 1/3 innings in his first start, allowed two in five-plus innings against the Orioles.
Freddy Galvis’ home run leading off the third was their only run against him. Anthony Santander walked in the first with two outs; DJ Stewart singled in the third, again with two outs; and Trey Mancini was hit by a pitch to begin the fourth.
“I thought we were too aggressive on him,” Hyde said. “It would be nice to grind out at-bats against him, especially on doubleheader days.”
Dunn was replaced by Will Vest after a leadoff walk to Stewart in the sixth. Santander lined to Vest, who threw to second to double up Stewart, who had advanced on a passed ball. Mancini grounded to second, then slammed his helmet down after the third out was recorded. Hyde noted Mancini’s frustration after Tuesday’s doubleheader when he went hitless.
In the seventh, Kenyan Middleton retired Maikel Franco on at-bat that typified the Orioles’ lack plate discipline. On a 3-0 count, Franco swung at a high fastball and grounded out to short. Ryan Mountcastle made the second out on a fly ball to right before Rio Ruiz ended an 0-for-16 skid by hitting a ground ball to the left side of the infield where no one was playing. Galvis tapped out to Middleton to end the game.
Hyde tried to remain optimistic.
“We’ve had some guys with tough luck, to be honest with you,” he said. “Franco is swinging the bat better than his numbers have shown. It’s been nice to see Trey swing the bat like he did in that first game. I feel like he’s taking better at-bats now. Santander, I don’t worry about him, he’s going to get hot at some point soon. DJ Stewart drew a walk late.
“I do believe that believe our offense is a lot better than we’re swinging the bat right now. We are going to turn it around.”
Zimmermann doesn’t think the pair of doubleheaders affected the team.
“I don’t think there’s any frustration in the clubhouse right now,” he said. “It’s the beginning of a very long season. Some guys are getting going, other guys are finding their way, and it’s just about getting that chemistry in the clubhouse that I think is coming along.
“I don’t think there’s anybody pressing too much with how it’s going. That’s the beauty of the baseball season. It’s 162 games. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve seen some positives for sure. It was a tough schedule this past week, on any team. Moving forward, I think the guys are ready to get on a roll and start swinging it.”
Notes: The Orioles returned Cole Sulser, who was the 27th man in the doubleheader, to the alternate training site at Bowie. Sulser threw a scoreless seventh inning in the second game. … The Orioles are 2-10 in doubleheaders since the beginning of the 2020 season when the seven-inning doubleheader was instituted. … The unusual schedule continues next week. After three games in Texas, the Orioles are off Monday, play Tuesday night and Wednesday afternoon in Miami, and are off again on April 22nd before beginning a homestand with Oakland on April 23rd.