BALTIMORE (AP)—The Baltimore Orioles ranked 11th in the 14-team American League in home runs last season. Their bullpen was 13th with a lofty 5.71 ERA.
So after the Orioles hit three homers and received a solid performance from four relievers Friday night in a 7-4 win over the Seattle Mariners, manager Dave Trembley had a three-word explanation for the uncharacteristic phenomenon.
“This is 2008,” he said, keeping true to his philosophy that any mention of last year is simply counterproductive.
Ramon Hernandez broke out of a hitless funk by going 3-for-4 with a home run, and Kevin Millar and Melvin Mora also connected for the Orioles (2-1), who climbed over .500 for the first time since last April 25, when they were 11-10.
“You’re not going to live and die by the home run, but hopefully you take advantage of that when you get it,” Trembley said. “You don’t want to waste that kind of effort, just like you don’t want to waste a good pitching effort.”
After starter Steve Trachsel (1-0) gave up two runs and four hits in 5 2-3 innings, Dennis Sarfate, Chad Bradford and Jamie Walker pitched 2 1-3 hitless innings of relief. Greg Aquino yielded the bullpen’s first two runs of the season in the ninth before former Mariners reliever George Sherrill, now Baltimore’s closer, got the final two outs for his second save.
The Orioles bullpen has allowed two runs in 12 innings this season.
After going 0-for-7 in his first two games, Hernandez got a pair of singles before hitting a solo shot off Cha Seung Baek to make it 4-2 in the sixth. Hernandez worked in the batting cage with hitting coach Terry Crowley after Thursday night’s game against Tampa Bay was rained out, and the results were profound: He reached all four times, counting the wild pitch on a third strike in his final trip.
Mora hit a two-run drive in the seventh off Baek and made several fine plays at third base.
“You get pitching, defense and timely hitting, you’re going to win,” Trembley said.
Adrian Beltre and Richie Sexson each hit two-run homers for the Mariners, playing their first road game after taking two of three from Texas. Beltre gave Seattle a 2-1 lead in the fourth, and Sexson homered off Greg Aquino in the ninth.
Starter Jarrod Washburn (0-1) allowed three runs and six hits in five innings before Seattle relievers permitted four runs down the stretch.
The absence of injured closer J.J. Putz has forced Mariners manager John McLaren to rework his bullpen, and he thus far has not found an effective combination.
“When your big boy goes out it has more of an impact. I don’t think one guy can replace him,” McLaren said. “We’re putting some guys in different roles right now. It’s just something we got to do. We’ll work through this. We’ll pull this thing together shortly.”
Washburn, meanwhile, needed 103 pitches to get through five innings.
“Wash had a tough time,” McLaren said. “It was like he was jumping a little bit. He couldn’t hit his spots.”
A sacrifice fly by Luis Hernandez put the Orioles up 1-0 in the second inning. Trachsel was cruising until the fourth, when Sexson hit a one-out double and Beltre followed with a no-doubt shot to left.
In the bottom half, Luis Hernandez tied it with another sacrifice fly. This one came on a liner to left, and Ramon Hernandez plodded home while the throw from left fielder Raul Ibanez was cut off.
Millar put Baltimore ahead 3-2 in the fifth with his first homer, a drive that barely cleared the left-field wall at the base of the foul pole.
“That was a serious bomb, 337-and-a-half feet,” Millar said with a wry grin.
Baltimore already has half as many wins as it had all last season against Seattle. … Ichiro Suzuki went 0-for-4. He came in with a career batting average of .387 against Baltimore.