Bullpen wastes excellent start from Grayson Rodriguez as Orioles fall to Mariners 4-3 (2024)

Grayson Rodriguez shined brighter than the Texas Lone Star in his return from injury, but a bullpen implosion cost the Orioles in a 4-3 loss to Seattle.

After Rodriguez shut down the M’s for six one-hit innings, Brandon Hyde turned a 2-0 lead over to his bullpen in the 7th. Danny Coulombe was the first man out of the pen for the O’s and he ran into trouble right away. The lefty gave up a single to Luke Raley on the first pitch he threw, then gave up a double down the left field line to Dylan Moore to give Seattle runners at second and third. The Mariners then got their first run of the game when pinch hitter Mitch Haniger hit a hard ground ball to third, driving home Raley as Jordan Westburg was forced to take the out at first.

After getting hit hard by all three batters he faced, Coulombe exited the game in favor of Albert Suárez with the tying run on second. Suárez couldn’t prevent the run from scoring as he gave up a double at the end of a 12-pitch battel with Ty France, which allowed Moore to score from second. The starter turned reliever did get the final two outs, leaving things all squared at two after seven innings.

Things didn’t get any better for the bullpen in the top of the 8th. The normally-reliable Yennier Cano took over for Suárez and had the same “warm” welcome as Coulombe. Julio Rodríguez singled off the first pitch he saw from Cano, and the next batter Cal Raleigh doubled into Elrod’s Corner to bring home the Mariners’ third run. Cano did get Mitch Garver to ground out for the first out of the inning, before giving way to Cionel Pérez.

The lefty didn’t fair much better than his compatriot Cano, as after getting Railey to ground out to first, Moore again doubled to bring home Raleigh and give the Mariners a 4-2 lead. Pérez did work a scoreless ninth to salvage a shred of respect for the relievers on the night, but the pen’s final line was still not great. It was the first time all season that either Cano or Coulombe allowed two runs in a game, and the relievers combined to give up four runs and six hits over three innings.

The letdown by the bullpen was especially painful after the magnificent outing from Grayson Rodriguez. Making his return from injury, it took longer than expected to see Rodriguez back on the mound (thanks to a three-hour rain delay) but that wait didn’t affect the big righty one bit. The flame-throwing Texan started the 1st by getting the first out on one pitch, punching out former All-Star Julio Rodríguez on a nasty changeup before closing out the inning with a ground out to shortstop. From the get-go, G-Rod was blowing his fastball by hitters and dancing his secondary pitches all around the zone.

Grayson Rodriguez, Filthy 84mph Changeup pic.twitter.com/goQjrU0NYm

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 18, 2024

The only time Rodriguez looked uncomfortable all game came in the top of the 2nd. The second-year righty got the first two outs easily, getting Garver to fly out to center on a slider before Raley grounded out back to the pitcher. However, Rodriguez then got a little wild with two outs. He gave up his base runner when a 0-2 fastball ran too far inside and hit Moore. He followed that up by walking Dominic Canzone on five pitches but was able to strand both runners when he got France to ground out to third.

Rodriguez was still a little wild to start the 3rd, as he got Luis Urías to fly out on a 3-1 fastball before walking Josh Rojas on five pitches. That brought up Julio Rodríguez again, and the O’s Rodriguez again got the better of him. The Mariners’ CF struck on a 2-2 fastball up, which turned into a strike’em out, throw’em out double when Rojas was caught stealing.

From there, G-Rod turned up the heat as he continued to dominate the M’s lineup. Rodriguez breezed through the top of the 4th, punching out Raleigh on a changeup, freezing Garver on a slider before getting Raley to fly out to center.

Grayson Rodriguez's 2Ks in the 4th. pic.twitter.com/LsQMNEwP8d

— Rob Friedman (@PitchingNinja) May 18, 2024

Rodriguez stayed in cruise control as he worked another 1-2-3 inning in the 5th. Dylan Moore started the inning by flying out right on a 1-1 fastball. Canzone was even more eager to get away from Rodriguez, as he then flew out to left on the first pitch. Rodriguez then capped off the inning with a three-pitch strikeout of France that he ended with a wipe-out slider. Through five innings, the former first-round had yet to allow a hit, had five Ks and looked in complete control.

The no-hitter came to an end in the top of the 6th in an almost cruel way. Rodriguez punched out Urías on a 3-2 slider but then walked Rojas to give Seattle a one-out base runner. In the third Rodriguez-Rodríguez, the M’s outfielder softly grounded a fastball to the right side. However, Rojas took off with the pitch, pulling Jorge Mateo out of position and allowing Julio to reach on an infield single. The tapper had an exit velocity of 60 MPH, an expected batting average of .130 but was still enough to break up the no-no.

Grayson was still able to end the rally before it started, getting Raleigh to fly out to left and then K’ing Garver to strand the runners. As this was Rodriguez’s first outing back off the IL, Brandon Hyde chose not to send him out for the 7th after throwing 82 pitches through six innings. The righty’s final line finished at 6.0 IP, 1 Hs, 0 Rs, 3 BBs and 7 Ks. It’s Grayson’s first career start of 6+ scoreless innings and his first since blanking the Rays over eight innings last September.

The Orioles’ bullpen woes probably saved the bats from shouldering too much of the blame for the loss. After getting two runs early off former All-Star Luis Castillo, the Baltimore lineup was about as hapless as the Mariners vs. Grayson. Jordan Westburg and Austin Hays combined for the O’s’ first run in the 2nd, as Westburg tripled into the right field corner before Hays brought him home on a sac fly two batters later. Baltimore doubled its lead in the 3rd when Jorge Mateo hit a leadoff double and then came around to score on an RBI single from Ryan O’Hearn.

After that initial outburst, the Oriole bats fell almost completely silent. From innings four through eight, the O’s only managed two hits—a bunt single by Cedric Mullins in the 4th and a seeing-eye single from Mateo in the 7th. While the Orioles pen let down their starter, Seattle’s relievers pick up Castillo. Mariners relievers combined to pitch three innings of two-hit baseball while striking out four and walking two.

The O’s offense didn’t show any signs of life until two outs in the 9th inning. Against M’s closer Andrés Muñoz, Gunnar Henderson took a 3-1 fastball and launched it the other way for his MLB-leading 14th HR of the season. The solo shot was almost as impressive as the outing from Grayson, as Henderson muscled it the other way over the Great Wall of Baltimore. Down only one, Adley Rutschman came to the plate looking to repeat his heroics from Wednesday but instead ended the game when he foul-tipped a 100mph fastball into Raleigh’s glove. The loss is certainly a tough pill to swallow, so let’s all watch Gunnar’s home run again to ease the pain.

Gunnar Homerson pic.twitter.com/9j4splB6Xh

— Baltimore Orioles (@Orioles) May 19, 2024
Bullpen wastes excellent start from Grayson Rodriguez as Orioles fall to Mariners 4-3 (2024)
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