SEATTLE -- Baltimore Orioles starter Ubaldo Jimenez was on the ropes two weeks ago, when another short outing in a 13-3 loss to Toronto left him with a 7.34 ERA and a shaky future. Jimenez's spot in the rotation was in jeopardy, and it was going to take a solid start or two for the Orioles to keep relying on him.
Jimenez delivered with solid outings in back-to-back outings, so he'll be on the mound again when the Orioles close out the Seattle series on Sunday afternoon.
"Ubaldo's had two good outings in a row," manager Buck Showalter said, "so we hope that continues."
Baltimore's rotation could get a facelift around the All-Star break, and Jimenez isn't the only Orioles starter on thin ice. Right-hander Tyler Wilson endured the worst start of his young career Saturday night, when he got tagged for eight runs off nine hits, three of which were homers, over three innings in a 12-6 loss to Seattle.
The Orioles, who came into the Seattle series on the high of a seven-game winning streak, have fallen on hard times to the tune of three losses in a row. The good news was that Baltimore's offense started to show signs of life after the fourth inning Saturday night.
Showalter was more concerned with his over-taxed pitching staff, which had to use four pitchers to get through the win after Wilson only got nine outs.
"We've just not been able to get deep in games with our starters," Showalter said.
Seattle is hoping veteran starter Hisashi Iwakuma (7-6, 4.34 ERA) can continue Baltimore's offensive struggles. Iwakuma has history with the Orioles, having thrown his only no-hitter against Baltimore last August.
"It was a significant game in my career," Iwakuma told The News Tribune of Tacoma (Wash.) through an interpreter on Saturday. "But that's in the past, and (Sunday) is a different ball game."
Iwakuma has given up 10 home runs over his past six starts, so there is reason for the Orioles to believe that their late offensive awakening Saturday might continue into the series finale.
Baltimore (47-33) has only been swept once all season, and that came in a three-game series at Houston in late May. The last time the Orioles lost every game of a four-game series came last August, when the Minnesota Twins swept them in Baltimore.
Seattle's three-game winning streak has given the Mariners renewed hope after a rough June. Saturday's win pulled Seattle (42-39) within 9 1/2 games of Texas in the AL West and 1 1/2 back in the wild-card standings.
"This is a time we need to win some games and finish the first half on a good note," said Mariners left fielder Seth Smith, who has homered in each of the first three games of the series.
Seattle has won three in a row for the first time since May 19-22. A win Sunday would match the Mariners' longest winning streak of the season, at four games.