If the Mariners sought to make Kendrys Morales feel needed upon his return, then mission accomplished. Thursday’s weak 4-0 rollover loss to Baltimore was nothing if not an ongoing cry for offensive help.
They got five hits, all singles, in eight innings against Orioles lefty Wei-Yin Chen.
They failed to get a runner past first after the first inning. They also surrendered their lead in the American League wild-card race.
All that was missing was a fly-over plane dragging a banner: Save us, Kendrys!
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The Orioles, who lead the AL East by three games, took command with a four-run third inning against Mariners starter Hisashi Iwakuma.
Ryan Flaherty and Caleb Joseph led off with singles, which put runners at first and second, before Nick Markakis grounded an RBI single past first baseman Corey Hart for a 1-0 lead.
Delmon Young followed by crushing a first-pitch slider for a three-run homer over the left-field wall.
And it was 4-0.
The significance there is the Mariners average just 3.92 runs a game, which ranks ahead of only Houston among the 15 American League clubs.
That helps explain why they made the trade earlier in the day to reacquire Morales and also why they might want to keep shopping.
Iwakuma (8-5) gave up four runs and five hits in the third. So it didn’t matter that, otherwise, he was dominant: no runs and just two hits in his other six innings.
Chen (11-3) departed after the eighth. Darren O’Day completed the shutout.
There is no shortage of stats, traditional and sabermetric, to explain the Mariners’ recent malaise.
The only ones, ultimately, that matter are these: They have lost three straight, five of seven since returning from the All-Star break and nine of their last 13.
They have, in the process, dropped one-half game behind New York and Toronto in the race for the AL’s final wild-card slot.
Chris Taylor marked his major-league debut with a single, one of the Mariners’ five hits, and a clean game at shortstop.
And ... Felix Hernandez starts Friday. And Morales should be in the lineup.
The Mariners’ only scoring chance came in the first ater James Jones led off with a walk, stole second and went to third on Stefen Romero’s grounder to first. He tried to score on Robinson Cano’s topper to the pitcher.
Chen flipped the ball from his glove to Joseph, and umpire Jim Reynolds signaled out.
The Mariners asked for a review but, after the umpires checked, the call stood.
Not much went right after that.