It isn’t as if the gophers only run when Ariel Miranda pitches, although that’s the rush hour.
Miranda gave up four more home runs Wednesday afternoon as the Mariners squandered a four-run lead and suffered a numbing 8-7 loss to the Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards that closed out a brutal August schedule.
“He had pretty good stuff,” manager Scott Servais said, “but the fastballs he left up, they were on them. And certainly, as the game went on, the second and third time around, they were on the off-speed (pitches) a little better, too.
“Not a great day.”
Not great for Miranda or the Mariners, who concluded a 12-game trip through four cities with five straight losses while dropping to 66-68 and falling four games behind Minnesota in the race for the American League’s final wild-card berth.
Miranda wasn’t around at the end when the Orioles scored what proved to be the winning run after the Mariners believed they were out of the eighth inning on a line-drive double play.
The Orioles challenged the call by crew chief Fieldin Culbreth that pinch-runner Caleb Joseph had been doubled off second after Tim Beckham’s line drive to short. A replay review clearly showed Joseph beat the throw to the base.
When the inning continued, the Mariners opted for Christian Bergman to walk Manny Machado before summoning Marc Rzepczynski to face Jonathan Schoop, who delivered a tie-breaking single to center.
That’s how it ended.
“We’ve come up short,” Servais said. “There have been different reasons for our losses. Some of it has been lack of offense. Today, we had plenty of offense.”
The Mariners lost two games in Baltimore when they scored six or more runs after winning their previous 16 games when doing so. One reason: The Orioles hit nine home runs in their three-game sweep.
Miranda surrendered his four gopher balls in just 4 1/3 innings, including three after the Mariners built a 6-2 lead by knocking out Baltimore starter Ubaldo Jimenez with a six-run third inning.
The Orioles closed to within 6-5 on homers by Welington Castillo and Craig Gentry in a three-run fourth and pulled even on Schoop’s one-out blast in the fifth, which finished Miranda.
Baltimore took a 7-6 lead on Machado’s sacrifice fly in the sixth inning against David Phelps, but the Mariners tied the game on Mitch Haniger’s two-out homer in the eighth against Brad Brach.
The game turned, though, on Miranda’s inability to protect a four-run lead.
Miranda has now allowed 35 homers, which leads the majors, and pulls him into a tie with Scott Bankhead (1987) and Jason Vargas (2012) for the second-highest total in franchise history.
The club record belongs to Jamie Moyer, who have up 44 over 202 innings in 2004, but Miranda is closing with rush: 17 homers in 51 1/3 innings over his last 10 starts. He also has a 6.84 ERA in that span.
It isn’t just Miranda, though. The Mariners have allowed 204 homers as a staff, which leads the American League and has them closing in on the franchise record of 216 allowed in 1996.
▪ Phelps injured again: Reliever David Phelps exited the game in the sixth inning because of an injury. He signaled to the bench after issuing a two-out walk that loaded the bases.
It was reminiscent of Phelps’ departure from an Aug. 6 game in Kansas City because of what was characterized as an “impingement” in his elbow. He missed 2 1/2 weeks.
“He felt the same thing on the last pitch that he made,” Servais said. “He was trying to throw a cutter, and he felt it right there. He felt OK earlier in the game. Its as just the last pitch that he felt it.”
There is no reason to put Phelps on the disabled list unless his latest injury is one that ends his season. Rosters can expand to 40 players on Friday, which means the Mariners can carry him on active duty while he recovers.
▪ Haniger breaks out: The biggest positive was Haniger breaking out of an 0-for-18 skid by going 3-for-4 with two doubles and a game-tying homer.
Haniger’s first double came in the six-run third inning when he jumped all over a hanging slider on an 0-2 pitch from Jimenez for a two-run drive to left with the bases loaded.
Before Wednesday, Haniger had just five hits in 34 at-bats since returning from a three-week absence after being hit in the face by a pitch on July 29.
▪ Segura sits (until the end): Shortstop Jean Segura, mired in a 4-for-39 slump, got the day off until there were two outs in the ninth inning. He then delivered a pinch single against Orioles closer Zach Britton.
Maybe that gets Segura going. Even with that single, his average is down 53 points, to .299, over his last 41 games.
“It’s hasn’t been a great offensive trip for him,” Servais acknowledged before the game. “I just thought to give him a day off today with a day off (Thursday), then we’ll go from there when we get back home.”
Taylor Motter replaced Segura at shortstop and ignited the six-run third inning with a single. Ben Gamel served as the leadoff hitter and contributed a single to the big rally.
Bob Dutton: @TNT_Mariners