Cabrera quick to lose control

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Pitcher `imploded' in fourth inning

O's struggles vs. left-handers persist

Notebook

September 18, 2006|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,Sun reporter

DETROIT -- The Orioles have seen Daniel Cabrera quickly lose his command and composure in the middle of an outing before. But they've never seen it happen as fast as it did yesterday in the Orioles' 12-8 victory over the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park.

Pitching with a four-run lead, Cabrera struck out the first two batters of the fourth inning, giving him strikeouts of four of the Tigers' past five hitters. He had retired 10 straight hitters when he issued a four-pitch walk to Magglio Ordonez, an at-bat that led to his downfall.

After Ordonez's walk, he allowed consecutive singles, then two straight walks - both on four pitches - and then a three-run double to Neifi Perez.

"He imploded," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "He had two outs and nobody on. He was going better earlier in the year, where he'd be a damage-control guy and stay composed. I think he just lost a little composure. Obviously, he couldn't get to the plate when he does that. When you start to think about just trying to get the ball over, it worked against him."

Perlozzo also was concerned with how Cabrera went from the windup instead of the stretch during Perez's at-bat, which enabled Brandon Inge to get a huge running start from first base and score on what appeared to be an innocent grounder to center field.

"I struggled with the stretch, and I tried to change with the bases loaded to throw strikes," Cabrera said. "I did, but they got a base hit through the middle. ... I've never seen that, but anything can happen in this game."

Cabrera allowed six earned runs on four walks and four hits through four innings. His ERA jumped to 5.10, and he remains winless in his past four starts. He hasn't made it through six innings in any of them.

"I gave up a couple [of] lucky base hits like I have in the last five starts, and I gave up too many runs in that inning," Cabrera said.

Left turn for the worse

At first, Perlozzo thought - or at least hoped - that it was one of those statistical anomalies that would even out during a long season.

But with two weeks left in the 2006 season, it hasn't. The Orioles still haven't figured out how to hit left-handed pitching. Even with their victory yesterday in a game pitched by the Tigers' Wilfredo Ledezma, the Orioles are 15-33 in games started by left-handed pitchers, as opposed to 49-52 against right-handers.

The Orioles' average against right-handers heading into yesterday was .283, fifth best in the American League. Their average against left-handers was .256, 13th in the league.

"It hasn't [gone away]," Perlozzo acknowledged. "I would have thought that we were built to handle left-handers a lot better than this. I think this is something that we need to address next year, too - try to get that so that the difference isn't so great."

Gomez stays hot

Perhaps, all it took was some extended playing time for Chris Gomez to get his bat going. Gomez, who made his eighth straight start, had a season-high four hits yesterday to go along with a homer and three RBIs.

In the three-game series with Detroit, the team with which he broke into the major leagues, Gomez was 7-for-13. He has an 11-game hitting streak, three short of his career high, and is batting .432 in September.

"It's what every player wants to do," said Gomez, a free agent after the season, who is hitting .320. " ... Hopefully, I'll have some momentum going into the offseason and somebody will want my services next year."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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