Seattle's struggles continue in 4-2 loss to O's
Hector Noesi might have finally pitched his way out of Seattle's rotation. Not that he got any help from the Mariners' equally struggling offense.
Former Seattle prospect Chris Tillman gave up just two hits in 8 1-3 innings, and Noesi was handed his major league-leading 11th loss in Baltimore's 4-2 win over the Mariners on Wednesday afternoon.
Making his first start of 2012 after being recalled from the minors, Tillman took a shutout into the ninth before giving way to closer Jim Johnson, who recorded his league-high 25th save, and Baltimore took two of three in the series.
''We didn't put ourselves in position to hit the ball hard and get a chance to get anything going,'' Seattle manager Eric Wedge said. ''That guy commanded the ball game against us.''
Baltimore's Adam Jones, another former Seattle prospect, added his 20th homer of the season with a shot into the upper deck in left field in the second inning off Noesi. Not only was its Jones' 20th long ball, it was the 20th homer given up this season by Noesi.
If Noesi (2-11) has a spot in Seattle's rotation after the All-Star break is one of the main questions for Seattle to address. It was the fourth straight start with Noesi giving up at least seven hits and he has not left a game with the lead since May 17 against Cleveland. He has not won since May 6.
''We are in a process of evaluating everything. I've been very clear. I've been very patient and I think we've been patient as an organization, but there is a time and place to make some changes as we head into the break,'' Wedge said. ''We're going to evaluate where we are with everybody.''
Where Seattle is offensively is at the bottom of baseball when it comes to hitting at home. After Wednesday's loss, the Mariners are hitting just .194 at Safeco Field and their only runs came thanks to Robert Andino's careless error in the ninth that likely cost Tillman his first complete game.
Andino's error allowed Michael Saunders to reach and was followed by John Jaso's double on Tillman's 125th pitch. Tillman was pulled and Johnson gave up an RBI groundout and RBI single to Justin Smoak before closing out the victory.
Before the ninth started, Saunders had Seattle's only hit when he singled up the middle just out of J.J. Hardy's reach with one-out in the fourth inning.
Tillman (1-0) struck out seven and walked two and his velocity hovered in the mid-90s even into the ninth inning. He had never gone more than 7 1-3 innings in a major league start, but after retiring the first 10 batters Tillman set down 15 of the final 20 batters he faced. Both of the runs Seattle scored in the ninth were unearned.
After Wednesday's game, the Orioles optioned Tillman to Double-A Bowie, with the intent of starting him early next week during the All-Star break then bringing him back to Baltimore after the break.
''What he did today is not new ... this is not uncharted territory for him. It's just it would be if he can consistently do it,'' Orioles manager Buck Showalter said.
Tillman was once a top prospect in the Mariners' farm system before being shipped along with Jones and three others to Baltimore in 2008 in exchange for Erik Bedard, a trade that backfired on the Mariners. Jones has developed into an All-Star, while Bedard spent four injury-plagued seasons in Seattle's organization.
Tillman was a bit of a wild card in the deal. He was highly regarded by the Mariners, but his career with the Orioles hasn't met projections. Tillman was just 3-5 with a 5.52 ERA in 13 starts with Baltimore in 2011 and 8-8 with a 3.63 ERA at Triple-A Norfolk this season.
''I faced him last year and he never had him sit at 93 to 95 miles per hour,'' Saunders said of Tillman. ''He was throwing strikes, mixing his pitches ... and he did a good job not leaving any over the plate.''
Davis and Andino added RBI singles for the Orioles, who won two straight for the first time since June 16-17. Since taking two of three from Atlanta in mid-June, the Orioles are just 5-10. Meanwhile, Seattle has won just one series since early June.
''Every position player out there has a job to do and they are not getting it done right now,'' Wedge said. ''It's obvious.''
NOTES: Seattle C Jesus Montero left in the fifth inning after taking a foul ball from Andino off the facemask. Montero was down on a knee for several minutes and was wobbly when he first stood up. Wedge said Montero had a mild concussion. ... Baltimore 2B Brian Roberts was sent back to Baltimore for more examination of his groin injury that landed him on the 15-day DL on Tuesday. ... The Orioles improved to 16-3 in games where Jones homered.