Rangers Crush Hendrickson

Rangers 6 Orioles 5

April 26, 2009|By Dan Connolly | Dan Connolly,dan.connolly@baltsun.com

Entering Saturday night's 6-5 loss to the Texas Rangers, Orioles left-hander Mark Hendrickson had allowed a home run in each of his first three starts this season.

By his seventh pitch Saturday, he had extended the streak.

And by the third inning, he had entered a small but ignominious baseball fraternity while handing his teammates a five-run deficit they couldn't erase with a ninth-inning comeback.

"We needed one more hit to get back in it and came up short," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "They jumped on the board early. The home run ball obviously was to their advantage."

Hendrickson became the first pitcher since the Colorado Rockies' Shawn Estes on Oct. 2, 2004, and the fifth since 1954, to allow homers to the leadoff hitter in the first, second and third innings. Estes also surrendered one to lead off the fourth against the Houston Astros at Coors Field.

According to retrosheet.org, the other three were the San Diego Padres' Sterling Hitchcock in 2000, the California Angels' Tommy John in 1984 and the Orioles' Dave McNally at Detroit on July 12, 1970, in the first game of a doubleheader.

So Hendrickson (1-3) didn't make baseball or club history in front of an announced 41,160. But he did achieve a personal worst. Including a one-out homer in the second, Hendrickson surrendered four in a game for the first time in his eight-season career.

"It's very tough. You try to get the first guy, but I put us in a hole tonight," said Hendrickson, who gave up six runs (five earned) in 4 1/3 innings. "Obviously the bullpen pitched very well. The offense tried to rally at the end. But it was a little bit too much of a hole."

Hendrickson, who has lost three straight since beating the Tampa Bay Rays in his Orioles debut, nearly received a no-decision thanks to reliever Brian Bass and the Orioles' offense.

Bass entered in the fifth and pitched 3 2/3 scoreless innings while the Orioles scratched back. Ty Wigginton had an RBI single in the fourth, the lone run off Texas right-hander Scott Feldman (1-0), and then added a solo homer - his first as an Oriole - in the sixth against rookie reliever Derek Holland.

Trailing 6-2 in the ninth, the Orioles (8-10) rallied against Rangers relievers C.J. Wilson and Frank Francisco. Cesar Izturis doubled home Gregg Zaun, who had reached on an error, and then Adam Jones slashed a two-run, one-out single before Francisco recorded his fourth save by striking out Nick Markakis and getting Aubrey Huff to fly out.

"We had the right guys up there," Trembley said. "Didn't get it done."

It was practically over right after it started.

Rangers leadoff man Ian Kinsler began the barrage against Hendrickson by hitting an 88 mph fastball into the Orioles' bullpen beyond left-center field - a 410-foot shot.

Leading off the second, Texas first baseman Chris Davis crushed one 395 feet onto the flag court in deep right for a 2-0 lead. Three batters later, Kinsler homered again, this time an 87 mph fastball that quickly landed in the left-field seats, 370 feet from home plate.

It was Kinsler's sixth multi-homer game of his career - and he achieved it by the second inning.

Andruw Jones started the third with a 402-foot homer to center for a 5-0 Texas lead.

All told, the four homers against Hendrickson traveled more than 1,500 total feet, or roughly 0.3 of a mile.

"My fastball came back to the middle of the plate on probably three of the home runs. Same thing with the curveball," Hendrickson said. "It just didn't break the way I wanted. It's no secret I got beat by the long ball today. And it was too big a deficit to come back."

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