J.P. Crawford felt his trade to Seattle would give him the opportunity to be an everyday shortstop — hopefully as part of what the Mariners hope to build long-term.
His recent performance is backing up Seattle’s belief in the 24-year-old.
“I like his demeanor, how he’s carrying himself on the field. He’s been really good,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said.
Crawford had a career-high four hits and drove in four, Yusei Kikuchi had his best outing in a month, and the Mariners used an eight-run third inning to thump the Baltimore Orioles 13-3 Sunday.
Crawford lifted his average to exactly .300 in his first season since being acquired from Philadelphia. The promising young shortstop hit his second home run of the season in the first inning, had a pair of singles and drove in two during the third inning, and added a sacrifice fly in the seventh. Since May 22, Crawford has raised his batting average 56 points.
“My timing has been good and I’m not missing my pitches to hit. That’s the biggest thing,” Crawford said. “When you get in a little funk, you start fouling off pitches you should be hitting.”
Seattle reached double-digit runs for the 11th time this season. Mac Williamson hit a two-run homer and scored three times. Austin Nola, Dee Gordon and Mallex Smith all had RBI singles during Seattle’s big inning.
Baltimore starter Gabriel Ynoa (0-5) gave up seven earned runs in 2 1/3 innings. After snapping a 10-game losing streak a day earlier, the Orioles allowed 10 or more runs for the 15th time.
“There’s not a whole lot of options right now,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said of his pitching. “We have what we have. I think we’re kind of seeking what we have at the upper levels right now and that’ll change over the course of time but this is what we have right now.”
Kikuchi (4-5) had lost four straight decisions, raising concerns about his transition from Japan to the majors, especially with his velocity ticking down. In his previous five starts, Kikuchi allowed 44 hits and 23 earned runs and had not pitched past the fifth inning.
Sunday was a marginal improvement, even if it started out shaky.
Trey Mancini hit his 17th homer in the first inning, and Kikuchi walked a season-high four over the first two innings. After escaping a jam in the second by giving up only one run, Kikuchi retired eight of the next nine. He allowed another run in the sixth after a leadoff double by Renato Nuñez, but his velocity was up and the overall results were better.
“It wasn’t my best performance, it wasn’t my 100 percent performance, but I was able to grind through and build a ballgame for my team so I was proud of that,” Kikuchi said through an interpreter. “The last five starts I wasn’t able to perform the best I could and (Servais) has been very nice to me and given me a bunch of advice and my teammates around me have praised me a lot and helped me build my confidence.”
Seattle continued to shuffle the arms in its bullpen by selecting RHPs Matt Carasiti and Mike Wright from Triple-A Tacoma. To clear the roster spots, the Mariners optioned RHP Gerson Bautista to Tacoma, designated for assignment LHP Jesse Biddle and transferred RHP Chasen Bradford to the 60-day injured list. Servais said a second opinion revealed Bradford has an injury to his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow. The team is unsure if surgery will be needed.
Carasiti was released from the Cubs organization on June 7 after pitching last season in Japan. He pitched a scoreless inning, becoming the 34th pitcher this season for the Mariners. Wright started the season with Baltimore before being acquired by Seattle in April. He pitched two scoreless innings.
Baltimore LHP John Means could be back in the rotation next weekend. Means, who was placed on the 10-day injured list Thursday with a shoulder strain, is expected to throw a bullpen early in the week.
Orioles: Baltimore is off Monday and has not named a starter for the opener of its series against San Diego on Tuesday.
Mariners: After a day off, the Mariners open a road trip in Milwaukee on Tuesday. Marco Gonzales (8-6) will start the opener.