Santana, Twins master O's, 9-0

Ace's seven shutout innings, Minnesota's 7-run 2nd inning send O's to 3rd loss in 4 games

September 09, 2004|By ROCH KUBATKO | ROCH KUBATKO,SUN STAFF

The Orioles didn't need to worry about the weather delaying their game last night. Their starting pitcher took care of it.

By the time it regained normal speed, the Minnesota Twins were impossible to catch.

The Twins scored seven runs in the second inning, six of them unearned, and Erik Bedard turned in his shortest outing of the season, unable to approach the brilliance of Minnesota's Jhan Santana in the Orioles" 9-0 loss before 19,358 at Camden Yards.

Failing to win their third straight series, the Orioles (64-74) have additional time to recoup with today's open date. Forget about getting right back on the horse. Better to stay away for a while after being trampled by it.

Miguel Tejada and David Segui combined for four of the five hits off Santana (17-6), the favorite to win the Cy Young Award in the American League.

"He has an excellent changeup, a great fastball, a good slider." Segui said. 'If you"re a pitcher, that's a pretty good combination."

The damp conditions seemed appropriate with Bedard pitching. He's had three starts interrupted by rain and two others postponed. Some players complain about a dark cloud hanging over their heads. Bedard (6-10) has a legitimate gripe.

Neither team took batting practice on the field, which was covered by the tarp most of the day. The Orioles also figured to be limited once it came off.

They were facing a pitcher who held opponents to a .196 average before last night, a pitcher who is 10-0 with a 1.38 ERA in his past 11 starts, and 15-2 with a 1.49 ERA in the past 18.

Believe the hype.

"He was filthy." Segui said. "That was one of the best lefties I ever faced. You can't sit on any particular pitch on any particular count because he can throw any of them over at any time."

Santana retired the first 12 batters before Tejada lined a single into left field. Segui singled with one out, and the Orioles had pieced together a rally, though Santana probably didn't recognize it. How often does he see one? There were two last night. Tejada and Segui reached again in the seventh, but the Orioles still couldn't get a runner to third base.

"Tonight I was able to throw my fastball inside, and of course, my changeup." he said. "That's the key for me."

Santana was pulled after the seventh. He didn't walk a batter and struck out nine.

"He throws 94, 95. He has a hard changeup, a hard slider." Tejada said. "Tonight, he had everything."

Handing Santana a seven-run lead after two innings was downright unfair, and it made the last seven a mere formality. The Orioles had no chance and lost for the third time in four games.

"The kid's got good stuff." Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said. 'You put yourself in a hole against a guy like that, it's pretty tough."

Said Santana: "I was trying to work quick."

At least somebody did.

Bedard gave the Orioles seven innings in his last start. He gave Mazzilli gray hair last night, and not from stress or aggravation, but because the game lasted that long while he was in it.

Twenty-three pitches in the first inning, 50 in the second. Balls missed the strike zone or were fouled off. Bedard kept chucking, and an entire team fidgeted.

"He has the stuff to put them away." Mazzilli said. "You get to where it's 20, 25 pitches in an inning, and that's kind of taxing on you. It's a big problem."

The sluggish pace can put fielders to sleep. That might explain Melvin Mora's first error in 30 games, a dropped line drive that loaded the bases for the second time in the second inning, with the Twins ahead, 1-0.

Mora glanced at third base, checking if he could double off Michael Cuddyer, and lost the ball.

Lew Ford produced the second sacrifice fly of the inning. Torii Hunter delivered an RBI single, and rookie Justin Morneau blooped a two-run double into right field - the ball deflecting off Jay Gibbons" glove on the hop.

Matt LeCroy attacked the next pitch, a 90-mph fastball, and his two-run homer completed the scoring and increased the volume of discontent in the mostly empty stands.

"I was battling." Bedard said. 'They were fouling off a lot of pitches. The good thing was I was throwing strikes."

Asked if he was thinking about shutting down Bedard, Mazzilli said, "Not this second. We just came off the field."

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