Cabrera makes it two for the show, solidifies his spot

Orioles rookie wins again in 2nd major league start, leaves Mazzilli impressed

May 20, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE — Late Orioles game: Last night's game between the Orioles and Mariners in Seattle ended too late to be included in this edition. A complete report can be found in later editions or on the Internet at www. baltimoresun.com. SEATTLE - The Orioles had two main questions entering Tuesday night's game at Safeco Field. Could Daniel Cabrera do it again? And will he stay in the starting rotation.

The answers were a resounding yes and yes.

Cabrera, the fresh-faced kid from Double-A, was just as convincing in his second major league start as he was in his first, and the Orioles routed the Seattle Mariners, 7-2.

In 6 2/3 innings, Cabrera gave up two runs on six hits, with the only damage coming on bases-empty home runs by Raul Ibanez and Bret Boone.

Throw in the six shutout innings Cabrera tossed against the Chicago White Sox last Thursday, and he's sitting pretty at 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

"In my mind," Cabrera said, speaking in Spanish through translator Rudy Arias, "I'm going pitch as good as I can so I can stay up here as long as I can."

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli has no plans to get rid of him. Even entering the game, Mazzilli said it wasn't "a make-or-break" start for Cabrera. He'll pitch again in Sunday's series finale at Anaheim, and he'll probably get more chances after that.

The Orioles promoted Cabrera from Double-A Bowie last week when Matt Riley went on the disabled list with a sore left shoulder.

Riley has resumed throwing and is eligible to come off the disabled list Tuesday, but Mazzilli said he's not sure when he'll be back on the roster.

So for now, the Orioles intend to ride Cabrera's wave.

"He's in [the rotation indefinitely]," Mazzilli said. "This kind of reinforces things, the way he's pitched these past two outings. For a guy who's coming out of Double-A, he's been impressive."

At Bowie, Cabrera separated himself from other Orioles pitching prospects with an overpowering fastball and steady control. In 27 1/3 innings, he allowed just 11 hits and 12 walks, while striking out 35.

After skipping Triple-A entirely, he has taken that same success to the big leagues. In 12 2/3 innings, he's allowed eight hits and five walks, and posted four strikeouts. Not bad for a guy who won't turn 23 until May 28.

"I don't see a kid who's scared at all," said Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons. "He seems like a guy who's been in the big leagues for 10 years."

Cabrera has yet to pitch from behind. The Orioles gave him a 1-0 lead in the first inning in Chicago, and they did it again on Tuesday night, as Miguel Tejada hit a run-scoring double off Mariners starter Freddy Garcia (1-3).

The Orioles made it 3-0 in the second inning with an RBI groundout by Larry Bigbie and a run-scoring single from Melvin Mora. Ibanez trimmed the lead to 3-1 when he led off the bottom of the second with a home run, but Cabrera didn't let it faze him.

"He seems [poised] with that personality that he has," Mazzilli said. "He stayed within his plan. That's what you look at is the composure of a young kid. You don't know what you're going to get out of Double-A. You think you know what kind of pitcher he is, but you put him out there before 30,000 people, it's different."

Neither team scored again until the sixth, when Bigbie crushed a 417-foot home run into the center-field seats, a two-run shot off Garcia that stretched the lead to 5-1. It was Bigbie's sixth home run.

The 6-foot-7 Cabrera was at 102 pitches when Mazzilli pulled him with two outs in the seventh. The manager went to the mound, shook the right-hander's hand and patted him on the chest.

Ten days ago, only the most astute Orioles fans knew Cabrera's name.

Now, it seems, he'll be a critical part of this team's story the rest of the way.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Seattle Mariners

Site: Safeco Field, Seattle

Time: 10:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (3-1, 0.33) vs. Mariners' Jamie Moyer (1-2, 5.29)

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