The Baltimore Orioles picked up Jim Thome on Saturday to boost their struggling offense, but getting any generated against Felix Hernandez figures to be a challenge.
The Seattle Mariners ace has struck out 23 in winning consecutive starts and enters Tuesday night's matchup with the Orioles with a 15-inning scoreless streak.
Baltimore (42-37) has scored three runs or fewer in all but two games during a 3-10 stretch, and that's the major reason it obtained Thome from Philadelphia on Saturday. The slugger singled in Monday's 6-3 loss in the opener of this three-game set for his first Orioles hit in his second game with the club.
He's 8 for 16 with three homers against Hernandez (6-5, 3.09 ERA), who has been nearly unhittable in his last two outings. The right-hander matched a career high with 13 strikeouts in a five-hitter for his fifth career shutout in Thursday's 1-0 home victory over Boston.
"This year, this is the best game that I've thrown," said Hernandez, whose 128 pitches also tied a career high. "I was throwing a lot of strikes and all the pitches were working."
Hernandez is 5-4 with a 3.46 ERA in 13 career starts against Baltimore.
Brian Roberts is 12 for 33 with five doubles against Hernandez and former Mariners outfielder Adam Jones is 6 for 19.
The Orioles are hopeful Roberts will return after he sat out Monday with a sore groin. The second baseman felt the problem initially during Sunday's 6-2 defeat to Cleveland.
"We want to try to manage that and make sure it's not something more than it is," manager Buck Showalter told the Orioles' official website.
Wilson Betemit has been one of the few Orioles hitters producing lately, but his 11-game hitting streak was snapped in the opener with an 0-for-4 performance. He's batting .434 (23 for 53) in his last 16 games.
Thome and Chris Davis were the only Baltimore hitters to record hits Monday, with the right fielder hitting a three-run homer for a 3-1 lead in the fourth inning.
Starter Jason Hammel held it until the seventh, when Casper Wells hit a go-ahead, three-run double for his first RBIs since June 20.
Miguel Olivo and Dustin Ackley added solo homers in the eighth. The Mariners (35-47) have 20 homers at home for the AL's worst total.
The six runs were Seattle's most at home since June 16 and only the second time it reached that number at Safeco Field since May 21.
The Mariners bullpen finished the game with four scoreless innings, lowering the unit's ERA over the last 10 games to 1.03.
The Orioles bullpen, meanwhile, has a 5.52 ERA over a 1-6 stretch. Those relievers have seen their major league-best ERA climb to 2.66.
The Mariners are 10-15 against left-handed starters and will get their first look at Orioles rookie Wei-Yin Chan (7-4, 3.73), who is 2-0 with a 1.29 ERA in three outings against AL West foes.
Chen has dropped his last two starts, yielding a season-high six runs over 6 1-3 innings in Thursday's 7-2 loss to the Indians.
"Every day, you got a different feel for your pitches. Today, I just don't feel it," Chen said through an interpreter.
Chen has pitched 11 straight scoreless innings on the road.