SEATTLE (AP) — Wade LeBlanc, Seattle’s latest entry in its beleaguered rotation, may not be racking up the victories in rapid fashion but the Mariners appreciate anything he can provide.
LeBlanc, acquired in a trade with Toronto on June 22, was critical in the Mariners’ 5-2 victory over the Baltimore Orioles on Friday night, earning his first victory since Sept. 23, 2014.
Kyle Seager and Dae-Ho Lee hit two-run homers to power the second straight victory over the American League East-leading Orioles.
LeBlanc (1-0) worked six innings, giving up three hits and two runs while walking one and striking out five. He went 646 days between victories.
“Anytime you get a win, it’s fun,” the 31-year-old left-hander said, “whether it’s five days or 563 days, or however long it is. I don’t take anything for granted.”
His last win was with the Los Angeles Angels against Oakland at the end of his 2014 season. He then played for the Seibu Lions last season and signed a minor-league deal this year with the Blue Jays. He was in the minors when the Mariners acquired him.
“That’s not an easy lineup to navigate through with all the power they have, but he kind of took some sting out of their bats and kept them off balance,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said.
The Mariners have had injuries and inconsistencies in the rotation. Ace Felix Hernandez (strain calf) is on the disabled list, Wade Miley (shoulder) just returned from the DL, Taijuan Walker missed his previous start with a sore foot and Nathan Karns has been dispatched to the bullpen.
In LeBlanc’s debut with the Mariners on June 24, he went six innings against St. Louis, allowing three hits without a run. He had a 23 2/3 innings scoreless streak — dating to 2014 — entering Friday’s game.
“He’s been phenomenal in both his starts,” Seager said. “The tempo he throws at, the amount of strikes he throws, the way he goes right after people. He doesn’t shy away. That’s a really good offense over there. He’s giving us a chance in these games.”
Another newcomer, hard-throwing Edwin Diaz, promoted from Double-A Jackson June 6, is also making an impact. In the eighth, he struck out Adam Jones, Manny Machado and Chris Davis. He has 26 strikeouts in first 13 relief appearances.
“You’ve got to tip your hat to him (LeBlanc), and their relievers. I think that’s five out of seven for Diaz,” Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. “You know why they like him so much. He’s doing a great job for them. He’s got a great young arm.”
Steve Cishek worked the ninth for his 20th save in 24 opportunities.
Kevin Gausman (1-6) took the loss. He went six innings and allowed three runs and eight hits with no walks and seven strikeouts.
“He just made a couple of mistakes,” Showalter said. “When we’re not scoring runs it gets magnified.”
The teams traded early home runs. Seattle’s Seth Smith hit one in the first inning — his eighth — and Baltimore’s Davis went deep in the second — his 20th. It was Davis’ 181st as an Oriole, one behind Ken Singleton for eighth place on the club’s all-time list.
The Orioles took a 2-1 lead in the third on Jonathan Schoop’s two-out single, scoring Joey Richard from second.
Nelson Cruz started the sixth with a double off the wall in right-center field. He has played 50 games against his former team and has reached base safely in 47, including 45 with at least one hit.
Seager, protecting an 0-2 count, caught a high 96-mph fastball from Gausman and ripped it 15 seats into the bleachers in right. It was his 16th.
In the eighth, with Cruz on first, Lee hit his 11th home run, to left field off Chaz Roe.
GOING DEEP RESEARCH
In one of the more quirky and esoteric baseball stats, deep research by the Elias Sports Bureau has shown that Baltimore’s Hyun-Soo Kim’s home run Thursday meant more than just the record 56, most in major league history for June. It was the 23rd straight year the Orioles have hit at least one home run on June 30. That’s the longest home run streak by any team on any date in history.
Orioles: Showalter said RHP Darren O’Day (right hamstring strain), who has been on the DL since June 3, “felt pretty good today. That’s a good sign. He’s not going backwards, just not going forward.”
Mariners: RHP Felix Hernandez (strained calf) threw a 23-pitch bullpen session three hours before Friday’s game and was watched by more than a few club personnel. He appeared uninhibited. The plan is for him to throw a simulated game during the series in Houston followed by two rehab starts in the minors then will start after the All-Star break. “He’s pretty important,” Servais said. “We need to get him going in the second half.”
Orioles: RHP Tyler Wilson (4-5, 4.50) has won his last two decisions, although in his previous start he allowed 10 hits and five runs in five innings of a 12-5 victory over Tampa Bay. In two career appearances against Seattle, Wilson is 0-1 with a 6.43 ERA.
Mariners: LHP James Paxton (1-3, 4.15) is one of the pitchers Servais is counting on in the second half despite just one win this season. He has had one career start against Baltimore, a 4 1/3-inning no-decision.
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