GAME: Mariners (51-59, 4th, AL West, -13.0 GB) at Orioles (61-50, 3rd, AL East, -5.5 GB). GAME #: 111. SERIES: 3rd of 3 games. MEETING: 6th (Mariners lead 3-2). WHEN: Sunday, 10:35 a.m., Camden Yards. STREAKS: Mariners W 1; Orioles L 1. TV: Root Sports. RADIO: ESPN 710, Mariners Radio Network
Almost lost amid Seattle’s consecutive losses in Boston last week and the seven home-run extravaganza Friday in Baltimore was Kendrys Morales’ improbable feat of producing four hits in back-to-back games. Morales went 4-for-5 in Boston Thursday, collecting hits in his final four at-bats. Then on Friday, he went 4-for-4, which included his 17th home run.
Consecutive four-hit games — and hits in eight consecutive plate appearances — is rare. Until Morales did it, only one other player in 36+ years of Mariner baseball had done it, and little brain power is required to deduce that it had to be Ichiro.
Three times, including twice in 2004 as he neared his record 262 hits, and again in 2006, by which time Ichiro had produced so many multi-hit games that his third occurrence of back-to-back, four-hit contests passed by virtually unnoticed. During the 2004 season, Ichiro had a week in which he had two five-hit games, although not back-to-back.
The club record for consecutive hits is nine, by Raul Ibanez in 2004. Morales had a chance to duplicate that mark Saturday but, alas, no. He grounded out in his first at-bat, snapping the streak, and proceeded to go 0-for-3 before coming back with hits in his final two at-bats.
Michael Saunders wound up hogging the headlines by ripping two homers and driving in five runs in Seattle’s 8-4 victory. But what Morales has done on this road trip has been extraordinary. In five games, he’s an Ichiro-like 15-for-22 (.682).
Lefty Joe Saunders gets the call for Seattle in the series finale. He is coming off a tough loss in Boston last week, but threw a complete-game shutout over Baltimore last April. Saunders will be matched against LHP Wei-Yin Chen, who has pitched well for the Orioles since returning from a strained oblique. A closer look:
MARINERS: LHP Joe Saunders (9-10, 4.65 ERA, 1.49 WHIP)
The 32-year-old Saunders, a Fairfax, VA., native in his ninth major league season and first with Seattle, will make his 23rd start and second against the Orioles. Saunders had a weird July. He won his first four starts (following consecutive losses) and then lost his last two, allowing a combined 10 earned runs on 18 hits in the pair. He’s coming off an 8-2 shellacking in Boston.
- LAST START: July 30 at Fenway Park, lost 8-2; 5 earned runs on 9 hits in 5.0 innings; 5 strikeouts, 1 walk, 2 home runs, 99 pitches, 61 for strikes.
- LAST VS. ORIOLES: April 29 at Safeco Field, won 6-2; 2 earned runs on 4 hits in 9.0 innings; 2 strikeouts, 1 walk, 1 home run, 105 pitches, 66 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. ORIOLES: 6-0, 4.22 ERA in 8 starts covering 49.0 innings; 13 strikeouts, 13 walks, 6 home runs, 1.46 WHIP.
- AT CAMDEN YARDS: 5-2, 4.93 ERA in 7 starts covering 42.0 innings; 19 strikeouts, 8 walks, 4 home runs, 1.61 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Alexi Casilla (0-for-6, .000), Adam Jones (3-for-17, .176), Chris Davis (3-for-15, .200).
- HATES TO FACE: Matt Wieters (3-for-5, .600), Wilson Betemit (1-for-3, .333), Danny Valencia (1-for-3, .333).
- CURRENT ORIOLES VS. SAUNDERS: 25-for-114, .219 BA, 18 strikeouts, 7 walks, 5 home runs, .264 on-base percentage.
ORIOLES: LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-3, 2.87 ERA, 1.16 WHIP)
The 28-year-old Chen, a Taiwan native in his second major league season, both with Baltimore, will make his 13th start and second against the Mariners. Chen has won his last four decisions and hasn’t been beaten since the Mariners got him 8-3 May 1 at Safeco Field. He pitched his best game April 26 vs. Oakland, allowing two hits over 8.0 innings in a 3-0 victory.
- LAST START: July 30 vs. Houston, won 4-3; 3 earned runs on 7 hits in 7.1 innings; 9 strikeouts, 1 walk, 0 home runs, 119 pitches, 78 for strikes.
- LAST VS. MARINERS: May 1 at Safeco Field, lost 8-3; 5 earned runs on 8 hits in 4.0 innings; 6 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, 93 pitches, 59 for strikes.
- CAREER VS. MARINERS: 0-1, 4.86 ERA in 3 starts covering 16.2 innings; 17 strikeouts, 5 walks, 3 home runs, 1.26 WHIP.
- AT CAMDEN YARDS: 9-6, 3.75 ERA in 21 starts covering 129.2 innings; 105 strikeouts, 37 walks, 17 home runs, 1.24 WHIP.
- LOVES TO FACE: Kyle Seager (0-for-9, .000), Brendan Ryan (0-for-4, .000), Dustin Ackley (1-for-7, .143).
- HATES TO FACE: Michael Morse (3-for-5, .600), Justin Smoak (3-for-6, .500), Michael Saunders (3-for-9, .333).
- CURRENT MARINERS VS. CHEN: 14-for-55, .255 BA, 13 strikeouts, 3 walks, 1 home run, .293 on-base percentage.
MARINERS STATS / NOTES
- CURRENT ROAD TRIP: Three at Boston (Tuesday-Thursday), three at Baltimore (Friday-Sunday). The Mariners return to Safeco Field Monday to begin a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays.
- Before winning Saturday, the Mariners had lost 10 of their previous 12 games at Camden Yards.
- In notching his third consecutive victory Saturday, Erasmo Ramirez retired 18 of the first 20 batters he faced. He struck out six and walked none.
- The save by Danny Farquhar, coming on the heels of 3.0 perfect innings of relief in Boston, was the first of his major league career.
- Justin Smoak went 3-for-3 with two walks, reaching five times in five plate appearances.
- Nick Franklin went 0-for-4 and is hitless in his last 21 at-bats.
|8/4||Sun||at Bal||LHP Joe Saunders (9-10) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (6-3)|
|8/5||Mon||vs. Tor||RHP Hisashi Iwakuma (10-4) vs. RHP R.A. Dickey (8-11)|
|8/6||Tue||vs. Tor||RHP Felix Hernandez (11-4) vs. RHP Josh Johnson (1-8)|
|8/7||Wed||vs. Tor||RHP Aaron Harang (5-10) vs. RHP Todd Redmond (1-1)|