February 3, 2023

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Ray thwarted once again by one bad pitch

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BALTIMORE — Even the new pitcher-friendly dimensions at Oriole Park at Camden Yards couldn’t help Robbie Ray escape his recent long-ball bad luck or his longer-running Baltimore woes.

Ray (4-6) allowed four runs in five innings — three on Rougned Odor’s second-inning blast that landed just shy of Eutaw Street — and the Mariners fell 9-2, evening their series against the Orioles on Wednesday night.

Odor’s no-doubt shot was the fourth multirun homer Ray has yielded in as many otherwise promising losing decisions. That includes an Elvis Andrus two-run homer in a 4-2 loss to Oakland last Wednesday, Trevor Story’s grand slam in a 7-3 loss in Boston on May 20 and Mike Zunino’s three-run homer in a 4-3 loss to Tampa Bay on May 5.

Those four swings account for 12 of the 15 runs that crossed the plate on the reigning AL Cy Young Award winner’s watch in those outings. Ray also allowed home runs — but of the solo variety — in his past two wins. Ray hasn’t made a start without allowing a home run since April.

“[Other than] the one big inning in Robbie’s starts, it’s been the Robbie Ray of last year. It’s been that good,” insisted Mariners manager Scott Servais. “But you can’t really take it away, because that’s part of the game. So it’s working through those. And in those big innings, tonight included, he’s just not quite as sharp.”

That included a free pass to Ryan Mountcastle two batters before Odor ambushed a first-pitch slider.

“If I don’t walk the guy before him, then I don’t have to worry about it,” Ray said. “I just left a slider middle-in and he turned on it.”

Ray is 0-3 lifetime with a 6.75 ERA in four Camden Yards outings, the burly left-hander’s second-worst mark at a ballpark where he has pitched multiple times.

For the Mariners, J.P. Crawford homered in the fourth, and Taylor Trammell clubbed his fourth double in eight big league games this season in the fifth before scoring Seattle’s second run against Orioles starter Kyle Bradish.

Ty France added three hits while increasing his career-best hitting streak to 13 games. But the Mariners couldn’t cluster enough of their eight hits to do more damage against Bradish or the Orioles’ bullpen.

Camden Yards’ altered confines briefly rescued Ray when the park held Trey Mancini to a 411-foot double that would’ve cleared the wall in all 29 other MLB ballparks, according to Statcast. But Austin Hays followed with a two-out single up the middle to make it 4-2.

“I felt like I made a good pitch, got a guy to hit a weak ground ball, and it finds a hole,” said Ray, who was visibly angry as the fifth ended. “It’s just super frustrating.”

The southpaw still departed in a competitive ballgame, only for the Orioles to clobber reliever Sergio Romo for five runs in the sixth in their first three-homer inning since September 2020.

Romo had not allowed a home run in eight previous Mariners outings. But after his ninth outing for Seattle, his ERA ballooned more than five runs, from 1.13 to 6.23.

“I felt good. No excuses, they just were ready,” Romo said. “I was 0-1, 1-2 pretty much to every guy. It’s just a matter of making better pitches to put ‘em out. And it’s the big leagues. You make mistakes, they should make you pay.”

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