IT WAS BAD, but at least there was some interesting symmetry to it. Orioles starter Matt Riley gave up at least one walk and a three-run homer in each of the two innings he worked last night.
Alex Rodriguez, then Derek Jeter, each registered three-run home runs to demoralize the Orioles. Then Riley was gone and the Orioles were off to see if they could match the infamous franchise mark of 15 walks. Somehow, they fell just short with 13.
It did not have to be like this. It was a gamble at best, a shortsighted miscalculation at worst. The Orioles signed three terrific hitters and position players in the offseason, then said they didn't need pitching. They had enough. Or they had a plan. The other half of the construction project could wait.
So here we are, faced with the prospect of 100 games of solitude - unless the Yankees and Red Sox are in town, then at least the other teams' fans will fill Camden Yards with screams and shouts.
Somewhere it was said it couldn't be worse than Rick Helling and Omar Daal. Yet here we are, stuck with an urge to utter that painful baseball euphemism for a season gone awry:
Wait until next year.
No one said anything about contending, but what happened to being consistently capable of making mischief?
Of course, if you are a true fan, able to detect incremental shifting of sand and/or attitude on the part of the Orioles' front office, then it's not right to register abject apathy at this point in the sort-of still young season.
Certainly, the Orioles understood they had to do something.
"You change the mix a little bit, get back to having some fun and taking the pressure off," Orioles vice president Jim Beattie said.
It was supposed to be a vaguely reassuring sight: Jason Grimsley in the Orioles' clubhouse last night.
The veteran reliever came to Baltimore via trade from Kansas City. He came equipped with crow's-feet and a world-weary sort of stubble roughing up his leathery cheeks.
Thirty-six years old, about to turn 37 on Aug. 7, Grimsley said he knew a couple of Orioles: Buddy Groom and B.J. Surhoff. In other words, his "middle-age" peers.
In a season dedicated to the school of hard knocks for a young and now injury-riddled, struggling Orioles pitching staff, Grimsley is something else entirely: an older man in the house to soak up a healthy portion of middle innings.
"That's basically what I'm paid to do: pitch every day," Grimsley said yesterday.
Grimsley is here to be a stabilizing force in a bullpen whose most productive pitcher now unabashedly broadcasts his displeasure at not starting.
Where, exactly, did Rodrigo Lopez get the gall or the credentials - either one - to complain about where and when he pitches?
Then again, Lopez, the human yo-yo, is back where he believes he belongs: in the starting rotation - by default. As of last night, Lopez will get the start Saturday against the Braves. He can do that because the Orioles now have Grimsley. Finally.
Jason Grimsley: concession to an unfortunate miscalculation on the part of the Orioles' front office, which has been forced to shore up a pitching staff that so far, outside of the promise of Daniel Cabrera, has turned out to be less a pitching staff then a worst-case scenario.
"It helps, considering where we are," Beattie said last night.
Beattie was in the dugout before the game, willing to remind his club via the obliging media that it's not just the pitching that's to blame.
"The team as a whole, offensively, defensively, pitching - everything hasn't really clicked," he said.
In mid-June, after too many promises that this Orioles team would be better than last year's Orioles and better than this year's Tampa Bay Devil Rays, it was beginning to feel desperate.
There are conflicting reports about what it means that the Orioles traded Denny Bautista, one of their young pitching prospects, for a veteran reliever.
The most vocal (and aggrieved) segment of Oriole Nation is decidedly confused about why, after such a decent start, the season is either lost or on the verge of the deep, dark abyss.
The Orioles are attempting damage control for a short-term plan that now seems overly optimistic. If you want to go with four, young, unproven and surgically repaired starters plus Sidney Ponson, then you're choosing to gamble.
So the Orioles gambled - and now they have lost.
They have as much as admitted that this week, now that the team has traded a little of its peach fuzz and uncertainty in the wake of a 1-6 road trip that sunk them to the depths of the American League East.
The free fall has left Jerry Hairston wondering why he has to play so many positions he's not prepared to play, Rick Bauer upset that he irritated his elbow nerve after being called into a game without being properly warmed up.
It's left Jose Leon being optioned back and forth to Ottawa with every shift of the wind. It's left people still wondering why Bautista was even pitching against the Yankees back on May 25 when he had been struggling in Bowie anyway. Still, Bautista was used for two innings. One was good. One was bad - four runs before being yanked with two outs in the sixth in what turned into an 11-3 loss, one of three routs suffered at the hands of the Yankees that series sweep.
But now the Orioles have taken some action. Jason Grimsley is here to shore up a pitching staff. Too bad more of that wasn't done in March.