Going, Going, Gone: Young's Homer Sinks O's

April 25, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Orioles right fielder Nick Markakis took a couple of steps back toward the wall before his head shifted to the ground just as Michael Young's game-winning, two-run homer off George Sherrill disappeared into the right-field seats.

It should have never gotten to that point. Not for the Orioles, who had a three-run lead on the Texas Rangers in the seventh inning but squandered multiple opportunities to break the game open. And not for Sherrill, who had four chances to put away Ian Kinsler with two strikes and couldn't get it done.

Kinsler reached on a line single to left field, allowing Young to come to the plate and hit his third game-tying or go-ahead home run in the ninth inning in the past five games. Those factors made the Rangers' 5-4 victory before an announced Friday night crowd of 24,319 especially difficult for the Orioles to swallow.

"It would have been a good one to win, and it was a tough one to lose," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team fell to 8-9 and has lost seven of its past nine. "They got the hits at the end. We needed one more out; we needed one more pitch."

Sherrill escaped a bases-loaded jam in the eighth inning by striking out Chris Davis on three off-speed pitches. The Orioles' closer got two quick outs in the ninth before losing the battle - both to Kinsler, who spoiled several quality offerings in the eight-pitch at-bat, and then to Young, who drove Sherrill's 1-1 fastball to the opposite field.

"It was a good battle with Kinsler, and you just have to put that behind you and get the next guy," said Sherrill, who blew his first save in four chances this year. "I just made a bad pitch. I showed him too many pitches in the same spot."

Said catcher Gregg Zaun: "It's an impressive swing for the guy to go over there. If you're going to get beat, you want to get beat the hard way."

Rangers closer Frank Francisco pitched a perfect ninth, going through three of the Orioles' top hitters - Adam Jones, Markakis and Aubrey Huff - on just six pitches to pick up his third save and spoil another fine start by Koji Uehara.

A night after Adam Eaton received a standing ovation and three nights after Brad Bergesen heard the cheers upon his exit, Uehara left the game in the seventh inning, with the Orioles leading 4-2, to chants of "Koji." He was knocked around by the Rangers a week and a half ago but rebounded Friday night to hold them to two earned runs and four hits while striking out six in 6 2/3 innings.

Uehara retired 12 of the final 14 Rangers he faced before leaving with two outs in the seventh. Hank Blalock's solo homer off him to lead off the inning cut the Orioles' lead to 4-2, but it never should have been that close.

Already leading by three runs after Brian Roberts' solo homer in the fifth, the Orioles had the bases loaded and just one out. Starter Vicente Padilla was able to retire Ty Wigginton and Luke Scott on consecutive first pitches.

"He made good pitches in the game, but we also missed some balls and popped them up," Scott said. "If you're swinging at strikes, it's not being overly aggressive."

Overall, the Orioles left nine men on base, making the situation much tougher on their bullpen than it needed to be.

"We got a one-run lead, so hold it," Sherrill said of his mind-set coming out for the ninth. "I didn't do it this time."


Saturday, 7:05 p.m.


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