O's Pitching Gets Pounded

Led By New Acquisition Martinez, Red Sox Tee Off On Berken, Five Relievers For 23 Hits

August 03, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

Of all the things that happened in the Orioles' 18-10 loss to the Boston Red Sox Sunday in a game that seemed like it would never end, this sequence was the most deflating for the home team.

The Orioles scored six times in the bottom of the third inning to get back within a run in a game that, just minutes earlier, they seemed hopelessly out of. When they came back to the plate for the bottom of the fourth, their deficit had suddenly ballooned to eight.

"There's that song, 'Momma said there'd be days like this.' She definitely forgot to tell us how many of there is going to be," said Orioles third baseman Ty Wigginton, appropriately summing up the feelings in the home clubhouse after a game that lasted three hours and 46 minutes and featured 38 combined hits, 13 walks and a total of 372 pitches by 10 hurlers.

The announced crowd of 43,115 on a muggy Sunday afternoon at Camden Yards got quite a display of shoddy pitching from both sides, but as is usual in their matchup against the Red Sox, the Orioles were completely overmatched. All six pitchers that manager Dave Trembley used gave up at least a run and two hits.

"The amount of runs and hits they got speaks for itself for what the problem was," Trembley said. "To say that we didn't pitch well would be an understatement."

Rookie starter Jason Berken was punished the most as he allowed six runs in just 1 1/3 innings, losing his ninth straight decision and watching his ERA balloon to 6.93. It was a performance that may have cost him his spot in the rotation.

The brave and now extremely tired souls that followed Berken - Brian Bass, Matt Albers, Mark Hendrickson, Cla Merideth and finally Jim Johnson - combined to allow 12 earned runs, 16 hits and five walks while striking out just three in 7 2/3 innings. It's never a good sign when the team's closer, Johnson, who pitched the ninth just to get some work in, gets only one fewer out than the team's starter.

"There's so much on that starting pitcher," said pitching coach Rick Kranitz. "He's got to set the tone. And if the starting pitcher doesn't set the tone, those relievers come in and the hitters are swinging out of their [backsides]. That's all they did. They just swung out of their [backsides]. And when our relievers came in, they paid for it."

The Red Sox's 23 hits, eight coming in their seven-run fourth after the Orioles had trimmed their deficit to 7-6 the previous half-inning, is tied for the fourth most the Orioles have allowed in club history. It also represents the most allowed by the Orioles since they surrendered a franchise-high 29 to the Texas Rangers in that infamous 30-3 defeat on Aug. 22, 2007.

Things never got that bad, though the Orioles, who had allowed 11 hits before even recording a 10th out in the game, certainly flirted with another wildly embarrassing loss.

"You certainly don't want to go through a game like that too often," said Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.

The top four hitters in the Red Sox order - Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia, Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkilis - went a combined 13-for-20 with six RBIs, 11 runs scored and five walks. The Orioles' top four - Roberts, Felix Pie, Adam Jones and Nick Markakis - did their best to keep pace, going 8-for-16 with seven RBIs, six runs scored and four walks. Wigginton had three hits and his two-run homer off the foul pole in the third inning against a shaky Clay Buchholz allowed the Orioles to cut Boston's lead to 7-6.

Several Orioles thought they had the Red Sox on the ropes. However, Boston never stopped hitting. Red Sox batters strode to the plate looking so comfortable that they might as well have been hitting off a tee.

It made Trembley yearn for a return to Saturday night when reliever Kam Mickolio actually moved a Boston hitter off the plate with a high and tight 97 mile-an-hour fastball.

"Too many people looked too comfortable," said Trembley, indicating his pitchers weren't throwing inside enough. "When that happens, you're probably going to get some results that aren't too pleasing."

In the three-game sweep, the Red Sox had a total of 28 runs and 47 hits. They've now beaten the Orioles 11 times in 13 tries. The Orioles went just 2-5 on the homestand and, at 44-60, are a season-high 16 games under .500.

Box score

for Sunday's game PG 4


Tonight, 7:05


Radio: 105.7 FM


Berken may be out PG 3

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