Gunnar Henderson, O’s Take Two of Three from M’s in Baltimore

After a successful homestand, taking two consecutive series from the Oakland Athletics and Kansas City Royals, Seattle traveled East to start a daunting road trip against the top two teams in the American League East: the Baltimore Orioles and the New York Yankees, followed by a trip to DC to take on the Washington Nationals over the Holiday Weekend before returning back to the PNW.

The win on Wednesday afternoon against Kansas City was huge because going into the seven combined games against the Yanks and the O’s, there were doubts… not because of the Mariners, but because of how good the Orioles and the Yankees have been to start out the 2024 season.

NYY has won seven in a row following their sweep of the Chicago White Sox Sunday.

Seattle has been able to hold first place in the AL West because of not only their decently-skilled play through almost two months, but also the Texas Rangers going 3-7 in their last ten. But don’t look now, as the then-last place Houston Astros have won eight of their last ten and sit only four games back of the Mariners in the division.

First pitch in the Bronx is set for 4:05 PM PT Monday… but before we look ahead, here’s what you may have missed as the M’s dropped two of the three games at Camden Yards.

Two words: Gunnar Henderson. Those two words had three home runs in three games against Seattle. He started off the weekend with one of those three, a 402-foot solo, leadoff home run on a Bryce Miller four-seamer.

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles

22-year-old Gunnar Henderson can swing it. His lead off home run Friday in Baltimore was No. 13 on the season for the 2023 American League Rookie of the Year.Photo: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Despite the M’s taking the early lead thanks to a Mitch Garver RBI single in the top of the first, Baltimore was not done in their half of the first inning. Ryan Mountcastle and Jordan Westburg had RBI sacrifice hits, and Colton Cowser doubled home two to make it 5-1 O’s after one.

Bryce settled down after the first, but Seattle’s offense never found their life against lefty John Means… the same John Means who no-hit the Mariners a few years back. Means, over six innings, struck out four and allowed just two earned runs.

Miller’s day was done after five plus… four earned runs, just one punch out on 86 pitches. Recent call-up Kirby Snead, Seattle’s 1,000th Major League-rostered player, struggled. He gave up, in succession, a triple, RBI triple and RBI double in the bottom of the seventh.

Baltimore handily took the opener by a score of 9-2.

Righty Grayson Rodriguez came off the Injured List ahead of Saturday’s contest to face off against Luis Castillo. Following just under a three-hour rain delay, it was game on.

Baltimore got one in the second and one in the third to take a 2-0 lead… Sacrifice fly by Austin Hays and an RBI single by Ryan O’Hearn.

Seattle was life-less (and hit-less until top six) on offense throughout Rodriguez’s start, and then suddenly, following his exit, they found their stride. Top seven, and back-to-back base hits by Luke Raley and Dylan Moore set up two in scoring position with no outs. It was Mitch Haniger who grounded one to third, which scored Raley.

Baltimore made a second pitching change ahead of Ty France. It was Albert Suarez who’s name was called following Danny Coulombe. Suarez and France dueled for 12 pitches, and on that 12th pitch, France drove in D-Mo on an RBI single, tying this game at two apiece.

Luis Castillo’s day was done after six complete. A strong performance, as La Piedra allowed just four hits and two earned runs. He got wild at times, walking four, but put a damper on the high-powered Baltimore offense. Gabe Speier and Ryne Stanek combined to get through the seventh.

Julio Rodriguez got things going for Seattle in the eighth, and then the Big Dumper, Cal Raleigh laced an opposite-field double into the left center gap. Julio was on his horse, scoring from first on the play, and the M’s took the lead. Then, with two outs, it was Moore again: his second double on the night scored Raleigh and gave the M’s a much-appreciated, and extremely-relevant insurance run.

Seattle Mariners v Baltimore Orioles

Utilityman Dylan Moore has been a consistent life to Seattle on the offensive side since he's become an everyday starting player. Here is Moore's RBI double late Saturday night. Photo: Mitchell Layton / Getty Images Sport / Getty Images

Fast forward to bottom nine and it was Andres Munoz facing Gunnar Henderson with one out to go in the middle game. Henderson put what looked like the most impressive swing of the season on a ball against Munoz. The 2023 Rookie of the Year smacked his (at-the-time) league leading 14th home run, narrowing a two-run Seattle lead to one.

But it was Munoz who was able to get the 27th out against former-OSU Beaver Adley Rutschman via the strikeout as the M’s won impressively on Saturday by a score of 4-3.

Rubber match Sunday morning featured 2021 Cy Young-winner Corbin Burnes against future Cy Young-winner, 24-year-old George Kirby.

Baltimore scored three in the first two innings… And guess who? It was Gunnar Henderson who led off the game with his 15th home run. Coltin Cowser and James McCann had the two other RBIs for the O’s. Seattle’s Luis Urias singled home Luke Raley and after two complete, it was 3-1 Baltimore.

But unfortunately, the Orioles were not done. In the bottom of the third, Ryan O’Hearn smashed a solo home run over the wall in right center and Cedric Mullins laced an RBI single, expanding the deficit to four runs.

Kirby, as you can tell from the previous few paragraphs, got touched up pretty good Sunday. He did get through six innings but gave up those five earned runs on nine hits, where two of those were home runs.

Once Burnes’ day was done, Seattle was in action, offensively. They plated two in the top of the seventh on a GIDP by Josh Rojas and an RBI single by Julio.

Mullins re-expanded Baltimore’s lead to three on his second RBI single of the game, and at this point, it was too little too late for Seattle. Infamous Cole Irvin and long-time closer Craig Kimbrel combined for three shutout innings and Seattle fell in the game and the series after their 6-3 loss Sunday.

As stated earlier, the road trip doesn’t get any simpler. The first-place Yankees will play host to Seattle for four games beginning Monday night. The Bronx Bombers are living up to their long-time nickname, as they lead the league in home runs. They also lead the league in ERA. Juan Soto, Aaron Judge and the Yanks have swept Minnesota and the Chicago White Sox in back-to-back series.

According to an Instagram Story post Sunday afternoon by J.P. Crawford, who has been injured twice in the past month, he has made the trip to the Big Apple. An educated guess says he is not their just for the sightseeing, and we may see him in the starting lineup Monday, or later in the series. This does pose a few questions… With the return of Crawford, what happens with Dylan Moore? Josh Rojas? Luke Raley? Only time, and Manager Scott Servais will tell!

Pitching probables for SEA @ NYY:

  • Monday 5/20, 4:05 PM PT: RHP Logan Gilbert (3-2, 3.07 ERA) vs. RHP Marcus Stroman (3-2, 3.33 ERA)
  • Tuesday 5/21, 4:05 PM PT: RHP Bryan Woo (1-0, 0.93 ERA) vs. RHP Clarke Schmidt (5-1, 2.49 ERA)
  • Wednesday 5/22, 4:05 PM PT: RHP Bryce Miller (3-4, 3.08 ERA) vs. LHP Nestor Cortes (2-4, 3.56 ERA)
  • Thursday 5/23, 9:35 AM PT: RHP Luis Castillo (4-5, 3.28 ERA) vs. RHP Luis Gil (5-1, 2.39 ERA)

American League West standings (as of Monday 5/20 @ 10:00 AM PT)

  1. Seattle Mariners (25-22), -- GB
  2. Texas Rangers (24-24), 1.5 GB
  3. Houston Astros (21-26), 4.0 GB
  4. Oakland Athletics (19-30), 7.0 GB
  5. Los Angeles Angels (18-29), 7.0 GB

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