As Cabrera slumps on, Yankees sweep up

O's starter declines to address his velocity drop, health status

August 25, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Daniel Cabrera had a couple of hours to cool down in the clubhouse and digest his latest confounding performance, yet he still provided far more questions than he did answers.

He couldn't explain how a season that looked so promising a month and a half ago had gone so terribly wrong. He declined to comment on why his velocity has been down significantly the past couple of starts. And perhaps most alarming, he also sidestepped the inevitable question of whether he is healthy.

"I don't have an answer for that," Cabrera said.

The rest of the Orioles were at a loss as well, as they suffered an 8-7 loss to the New York Yankees before an announced 42,746 yesterday at sun-splashed Camden Yards in an aesthetically displeasing game that lasted just more than four hours.

The Yankees secured the three-game sweep - a first for the Orioles (61-68) at home this season, and New York's first sweep of the Orioles at Camden Yards since May 2004 - when closer Mariano Rivera struck out Nick Markakis looking at a 1-2 fastball with Brian Roberts at third base. The pitch, which plate umpire Ed Rapuano declared had caught the outside corner, was the 380th pitch thrown in the game.

"It was just an ugly game," said Orioles reliever Jamie Walker, who surrendered the game-winning solo homer to Robinson Cano in the seventh inning. "We scored seven runs and lose the ... game. It's frustrating."

Said first baseman Kevin Millar: "You just have to find a way to win a baseball game. Someone's got to step up on the mound; someone's got to step up with a big hit. This series was not a fun series."

Orioles manager Dave Trembley was as angered after a loss as he has been all season, starting his post-game news conference by saying: "If you have a question that's of legitimate importance, other than the box score and what you saw out there, then you can ask me. But I'd appreciate it if you all make sure your questions are educated, because I've got a bunch of guys who just gave their heart and souls to that game."

About 10 minutes later, Cabrera appeared defeated while facing reporters, even though the Orioles kept him from a loss by rallying from five runs down to tie the score in the fifth inning on Roberts' two-run homer.

"Nothing is going my way," Cabrera said after allowing seven earned runs in 3 2/3 innings, his shortest outing of the season. "I've been bad for a long time, and that's not what I'm looking for when I get out there. My command has been bad. I'm behind [in] the count all the time."

Cabrera allowed nine hits, including Johnny Damon's second-inning, three-run homer, three walks and hit a batter, and needed 95 pitches to get just 11 outs. He struck out none for just the second time in 144 career starts.

In eight outings since the All-Star break, Cabrera has an 8.02 ERA and has allowed six earned runs or more five times. His ERA is now 5.24, the highest it has been since after his third start this season.

And perhaps the most disturbing thing yesterday was Cabrera's velocity - normally about 93 or 94 mph - topped out at 92. However, many of his fastballs were clocked at 90 mph or lower.

"His fastball wasn't moving or sinking as it usually does. A lot of stuff up in the strike zone. A lot of breaking pitches. He's usually not a guy that works like that," catcher Guillermo Quiroz said. "I have no idea what's going on. Hopefully, something mechanical and not that he's hurt or something."

Said Millar: "He's a velocity guy, a 92-to-95 guy, and when you see him dip underneath 90, that's cause for concern. Only he knows the answer."

Cabrera has gotten some treatment in the past on his back, but Trembley said yesterday, "If he wasn't [healthy], he wouldn't be out there."

When told Cabrera wouldn't answer a question about his health, pitching coach Rick Kranitz said: "If that's the case, that answers some questions, but I haven't talked to him yet."

Next: Orioles vs. White Sox, tonight, 6:05 (completion of suspended game); 7:05

TV: MASN

Radio: 105.7 FM

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