BALTIMORE – In the end, it really came down to one pitch. Miguel Gonzalez left a split-finger fastball over the middle of the plate and Robinson Cano hit it just over the right field scoreboard for a three-run home run.
Cano is used to hitting against the Orioles. It was his 29th home run against them and his 15th at Oriole Park, more than against any other opponent.
These days, the Orioles don’t see the Seattle Mariners’ wonderful second baseman often. Not as often as they saw him in his first nine years with the New York Yankees.
His three-run home run was the key to the Mariners’ 6-3 win over the Orioles before 36,508 on Saturday night.
Cano’s home run broke a 1-1 tie.
“It cost us the game, you know. We have a base open there, and he’s a dangerous hitter and we’ve done the best we can to keep minimizing his damage. He’s a great player. He took advantage of a mistake. We all want it back,” Caleb Joseph said. “He’s paid a lot of money to hit mistakes.”
Austin Jackson singled with one out, Dustin Ackley doubled, and Cano’s homer landed just above the scoreboard in right. He had been just 2-for-26 against Gonzalez.
Manager Buck Showalter said there was no thought to intentionally walking Cano, whose home run was just his eighth this season.
“He's made a lot of good pitches and had a lot of success against him, and it just didn't work out. They have a lot of good hitters there. Miggy was carrying pretty good stuff and pitching well and felt comfortable he wouldn't make a mistake to him, but we did,” Showalter said.
Gonzalez (5-6) allowed four runs on seven hits in five innings. He didn’t regret throwing the pitch to Cano.
“I had success with it throughout my career against him. So I decided to throw that pitch. But it just stayed up, middle,” Gonzalez said.
He agreed with the decision to not walk Cano.
“I thought it was good just trying to go after him. Nothing different. I’ve had really good success against him. You just tip your hat. I left the ball up and he was able to get a piece of it,” Gonzalez said.
In their last 20 games, the Orioles (61-48) have scored more than four runs just twice, and they’re 12-8. Despite the offensive challenges, the Orioles remain 2 ½ games ahead in the AL East. Toronto lost to Houston. The Orioles play three games at the Rogers Centre beginning Tuesday.
The Orioles scored a run off James Paxton, who came off the disabled list for his first start since April 8, in the first. Nick Markakis led off with a walk. Manny Machado’s double sent Markakis to third. Machado scored on Adam Jones’ infield out.
In the second, the Orioles had first and third with two out, but Dustin Ackley ended the inning with a sliding catch in left.
With one out in the third, Ackley hit a home run to right off Gonzalez, his sixth, to tie the score at 1.
Joseph led off the fifth with a home run to left, his fifth, and it was 4-2.
Dominic Leone (4-2) relieved Paxton with one out in the fifth, retired all five hitters he faced.
Joseph doubled with one out in the seventh off Brandon Maurer.
Machado led off the eighth with a tapper toward third base. Yoervis Medina fielded it and threw it away. Machado was at second, and after Jones and Nelson Cruz struck out, Chris Davis pinch hit.
Against left-hander Charlie Furbush, Davis flied to deep right to end the inning.
Kendrys Morales’ two-run single in the ninth gave Seattle (57-53) a 6-2 lead.
Ryan Flaherty’s pinch-hit single with two outs in the ninth off Fernando Rodney made it 6-3. Markakis singled and Flaherty made it to third, but Machado grounded to second to end it.
Showalter is confident the Orioles’ offense will turn around, but understands that it’s a difficult task.
“We're obviously facing real good pitching and will continue to. It's that time of the year. As the season goes on it gets a little harder to hit because guys are playing every day and pitchers are once every fifth or sixth day. Bullpen guys are getting rest between the times their out there. It's pretty normal this time of year unfortunately that the season becomes more of a challenge, the length of it, for everyday players like we have,” Showalter said.
NOTES: The Orioles’ quirky streak of seven one-run games came to an end. It tied a club record set in 1956.
-Brian Matusz hasn’t allowed a run in his last 12 appearances.
-Chris Tillman (7-5, 3.97) pitches against Hisashi Iwakuma (9-5, 3.06).