Mariners host Orioles, desperate for Julio Rodriguez to find his groove

The Seattle Mariners have tried just about everything other than sacrificing a chicken to Jobu — a la Pedro Cerrano in 1989’s “Major League” — to help Julio Rodriguez out of the worst slump of his young career.

They’re still looking for answers.

Dropped to the No. 7 spot in the batting order, Rodriguez went 0-for-4 Tuesday — striking out with two runners in scoring position to end the game — in a 2-0 loss to the visiting Baltimore Orioles.

The three-game series between division leaders continues Wednesday.

Rodriguez, a Silver Slugger award winner in each of his first two seasons in the majors, is 2-for-33 over his past eight games to drop his batting average to .244 with seven home runs and 29 RBIs just past the midpoint of the season.

About four hours before Tuesday’s game, Rodriguez was in the batting cage being watched closely by Mariners hitting coach Jarret DeHart, Hall of Fame member Edgar Martinez and Osvaldo Diaz, Rodriguez’s personal batting coach who flew in at the team’s request last week from Tampa, Fla.

“We’re close,” Diaz told The Seattle Times. “The more eyes they can get on board, the better it is. I’ve been with Julio for four or five years already, before he was Rookie of the Year. He trusts me a lot. I like what we’re building toward. I feel confident.”

Diaz said Rodriguez, who has grown to 6-foot-3 since reaching the majors, has been too upright in his stance and therefore not using his legs enough. They have been working on his rhythm and timing.

“Hopefully it gets something going,” Mariners manager Scott Servais said. “We need everybody to pick it up and contribute offensively. It’s not just one guy. But Julio is the main guy.”

The Mariners were shut out for the ninth time this season Tuesday as Baltimore’s Grayson Rodriguez and three relievers combined on a two-hitter and struck out 11.

The Orioles’ Ryan O’Hearn went 2-for-4 with a double to extend his on-base streak to 14 games.

“We won this game with pitching, but this shows you what kind of team we are, we can win in a lot of different kinds of ways,” Orioles manager Brandon Hyde said. “We’ve had a ton of homers and we got speed on the bases and we can do the little things. You’re not going to score seven runs (every) night. You got to win low-scoring games like this.”

Wednesday’s game is scheduled to feature a pair of right-handers in Baltimore’s Dean Kremer (3-4, 4.32 ERA) against Seattle’s Logan Gilbert (5-4, 2.72).

It will be Kremer’s first appearance since May 20 because of a right triceps strain. Kremer had an 11.42 ERA in three rehab starts for Triple-A Norfolk. He is 0-0 with a 3.13 ERA in four career starts against Seattle.

Gilbert pitched eight scoreless innings in consecutive starts before getting a no-decision last Friday against Minnesota when he gave up two runs on four hits over six innings in a game the M’s won 3-2. Gilbert is 1-0 with a 1.29 ERA in one previous appearance against the O’s.

–Field Level Media