White Sox do a number on Orioles, 15-0

Ponson ripped for 7 runs, Tejada injures leg as road trip starts with thud

Shortstop vows to play tonight

Shutout loss ties 2nd worst in O's history

Ordonez has 4 of Chicago's 19 hits

May 12, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

CHICAGO - The Orioles watched franchise shortstop Miguel Tejada limp off the field last night in the first inning, and by then, that wasn't their only serious concern.

Sidney Ponson had already given up three runs in what would become another unsightly performance for the team's $22.5 million ace.

The Chicago White Sox pounded Ponson for seven runs in six innings and piled on late, turning it into one of the worst losses in Orioles franchise history - a 15-0 drubbing at U.S. Cellular Field.

Tejada left the game with muscle cramps in the front of his right shin, an injury that threatens his streak of 623 consecutive games played - the longest active streak in the majors.

But Tejada later said the pain had mostly subsided in the trainer's room.

"I'm going to play [tonight]," Tejada said. "I can walk good. I don't feel any pain."

Tejada had a similar injury in spring training and returned to the lineup two days later. He will undergo a magnetic resonance imaging exam today, just to be sure there's no structural damage.

Without Tejada, who hit two home runs in Sunday's victory over Cleveland, the Orioles looked punchless against White Sox left-hander Mark Buehrle (2-1), who held them to four hits over seven innings.

By the end, it matched the second-worst shutout loss in Orioles' history. They also lost, 15-0, against the Oakland Athletics on Aug. 30, 2001. They lost, 16-0, to the New York Yankees on April 30, 1960.

"It seemed like we were just blah," said manager Lee Mazzilli, whose Orioles rode into Chicago on a three-game winning streak. "I don't know what it was. Get down early, and this team's usually not like that."

The Tejada injury seemed to sap the Orioles' confidence. But Ponson (2-3) had already put them in a serious bind. Few things are as deflating for teams as seeing their ace struggle, and the Orioles have seen that from Ponson in five of his eight starts this year.

This time, he allowed 11 hits and two walks, as his ERA swelled to 6.80.

"I'm concerned, obviously," said Orioles pitching coach Mark Wiley. "We've got to get him back throwing the way he can. He seems to be physically fine."

Ponson said he couldn't recall a worse stretch in his big league career. On April 20, he tossed a nine-inning, 88-pitch masterpiece against Tampa Bay, but in his past four starts, he is 0-3 with a 10.28 ERA.

"He's your No. 1," Mazzilli said. "You've got to hope he fights his way out of it."

Magglio Ordonez and former Oriole Willie Harris each had four of Chicago's 19 hits, as the White Sox matched their franchise record for runs in a shutout victory. They also defeated the Yankees, 15-0, but that was on July 15, 1907.

This one got ugly quickly, and it wasn't long before the Orioles saw it for the nightmare it was.

The White Sox had just taken a 3-0 lead on a two-run single by Ross Gload, when Tejada left the game. Orioles trainer Richie Bancells and Mazzilli went out for a look, and Tejada limped off with one arm draped around Bancells and the other draped around bench coach Sam Perlozzo.

Tejada, who signed a six-year, $72 million contract in December, gave the Orioles a similar scare during spring training. On March 11, he limped off the field against the Boston Red Sox in Fort Myers, Fla., after straining a muscle in his lower right leg. He was back in the lineup two days later.

The pain hadn't bothered him since, Tejada said. "It just comes one day," he said, "and goes away."

So the Orioles could hope to have Tejada back to his old form soon. With Ponson, they're not so sure.

He set the tone for another subpar performance against the first batter he faced. After throwing two strikes to Harris, the White Sox leadoff man, Ponson walked him with four consecutive balls.

The first four Chicago hitters reached base, as Jose Valentin dropped a perfect bunt single down the third base line, Ordonez hit a run-scoring double, and Frank Thomas walked, loading the bases before Gload had his two-run single.

Later Ponson said he watched the videotape and conferred with catcher Javy Lopez.

"I'm really [ticked] off," Ponson said. "I don't think I pitched that bad. ... I talked to Javy, and he said of those 11 hits they got off me, about three of those were on bad pitches. All the rest were on good pitches. Right now, I'm working hard, and the harder I work, the harder I get hit.

"I have to regroup. I still have a lot of starts to go. I'm not in a panic mode yet."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: U.S. Cellular Field, Chicago

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Daniel Cabrera (major league debut) vs. White Sox's Jon Garland (2-1, 4.43)

Ponson's fall

Since his 88-pitch complete game April 20 against Tampa Bay, Sidney Ponson has struggled in his next four starts:

Date Opp IP H ER Res

4/25 Tor 5 1/3 10 7 L, 15-3

4/30 Cle 3 2/3 9 6 L, 11-2

5/5 Chi 6 8 4 ND

5/11 Chi 6 11 7 L, 15-0

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