"I would think the rain hurt him," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, evaluating Uehara's performance. "But that's easy to say because he gave up the three runs after the delay. If he had shut them down, you don't say that. But at that point in time, they're swinging. Every pitch he threw, they were swinging."
Uehara, who had been battling a strained left hamstring, showed no ill effects from the injury on Thursday. The right-hander allowed baserunners in each of the first two innings, but didn't allow them to reach scoring position. Uehara allowed a leadoff single in the third, and then rain delayed the game for 27 minutes.
And when it resumed, the Mariners seized command. Baltimore had taken a 2-0 lead on a Luke Scott home run in the first inning, and Seattle tied the game just three batters after the game resumed. Ichiro Suzuki had a key double in that rally, and then Russell Branyan and Adrian Beltre both delivered run-scoring singles.
Uehara, to his credit, said Seattle's rally was built on taking aggressive swings. The 10-year veteran of Japan's Central League said that he felt fine and that the Mariners simply ambushed him after the rain delay.
"It wasn't really me, it was with them. They were aggressive with the first strike," he said via interpreter Jiwon Bang. "Because of the fact that the team lost the game, I cannot give a good evaluation."
In part, though, the Orioles were happy just to have Uehara back and healthy. Baltimore had been forced into a contingency plan by his injury, and the rotation's normal order was restored by his return. Uehara (2-4) hasn't won since April 13, but he said his hamstring ailment wasn't really serious in the first place.
Uehara would have liked to pitch through the injury, but the Orioles decided to err on the side of caution. And after watching Uehara pitch, Trembley said there may have been some rust involved.
"Obviously, he was affected by the long layoff," said Trembley, citing the 18-day span in between Uehara's two most recent outings. "There wasn't the finish on all his pitches that you usually see. When you see him get a couple three-ball counts that early in the game, you know his command isn't where it's going to be."
Seattle (30-30) took the lead on a sacrifice fly in the third, and the rest of the game was about adding insurance. Ichiro tripled and scored on a sac fly in in the fifth, and Branyan added a monstrous home run in the seventh. Baltimore (25-35) used a wild pitch to score late, but still fell to its seventh loss in eight games.
Former Oriole Garrett Olson had the opposite night from Uehara, struggling in the first two innings and pulling things together after the delay. Olson (1-1) allowed six baserunners in the first two innings and just three over the duration of his performance, but Baltimore was convinced that it had let the southpaw off the hook.
Adam Jones, who maintained that he saw the ball "as big as a beach ball," said the Orioles all share the blame.
"I think we are having good at-bats. It's just that the results aren't there," Jones said. "It's baseball and that's why you have 162 [games]. We'll come out tomorrow. We have a different team coming in, so I'm glad we are done with Seattle. They had some good pitching. And now we will move on to the next team."
Perhaps they will, but it will be hard for the Orioles to put their recent offensive performance behind them. Scott's home run, in fact, continued a bizarre trend for the Orioles. The team's last 14 home runs have all come from either Scott or Nolan Reimold, and nobody else on the team has homered since May 26.
And the results get even stranger from there for the Orioles, who have lost seven of their last eight games. Baltimore has scored three runs or less in nine of its last 10 games, and Thursday's loss sunk the Orioles to 10 games under .500 for the first time all year. If you ask Trembley, the results are truly perplexing.
"I would say we're all doing the best we can to understand it's part of the game," Trembley said of his team's power outage. "And it's certainly a difficult pill to swallow, because you know you have a real good group of offensive players on your club and it's just not getting done. But I think it's been difficult for everybody."
"I don't think we're in an offensive funk. We've hit balls hard, but I'd say our luck is not on our side right now," countered Jones, taking the opposing viewpoint. "I've told people since Day One I'll take our lineup against anybody's. Right now, we're just not swinging the bats as well as we want."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less