Orioles Walk A Lot - Just Not Home

Offense Goes 0-for-9 With Runners In Scoring Position

August 23, 2009|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

CHICAGO - - It is impossible to know how Orioles rookie starter David Hernandez would have reacted had he had a lead to protect after the top of the third inning. Perhaps it just wasn't going to be his night regardless and a couple of runs from his teammates weren't going to settle him down.

But there was no disputing the impact the third inning had on Chicago White Sox starter John Danks. The left-hander survived major command issues to get out of a bases-loaded-and-one-out jam, and was a completely different pitcher the rest of the way in the White Sox's 4-1 victory over the Orioles on Saturday night in front of an announced 34,730 at U.S. Cellular Field.

The Orioles (50-73) will get another chance to win their first series after the All-Star break this afternoon, but the pitching matchup - Chicago's 11-game winner Mark Buehrle against 11-game loser Jason Berken - is certainly not in their favor.

"Our one chance came in that [third] inning when he had guys on and got out of it," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "It happens."

It doesn't happen often that a starter walks five batters before getting the second out of the third inning and doesn't give up a run. That's exactly the stunt Danks pulled Saturday night in beating the Orioles for the third time in three chances this season.

Danks' fifth walk of the game and third free pass of the third inning loaded the bases with just one out, courtesy of Ty Wigginton getting thrown out stealing on a busted run-and-hit with Brian Roberts at the plate.

With his team leading 1-0 on Carlos Quentin's solo homer in the second, White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen walked to the mound to talk to his struggling pitcher and had D.J. Carrasco warming up in the bullpen.

"I was one ball away from being out of that game in the third inning," Danks acknowledged.

Danks finished an eight-pitch at-bat by striking out Orioles cleanup hitter Nick Markakis on a 3-2 fastball and then retired Nolan Reimold on an infield pop-up to get out of the jam.

"We put ourselves in a few opportunities, but we never could seem to get him to break," said Roberts, who went 0-for-3 with two walks and saw his 11-game hitting streak come to an end. "Most of the guys that are good, if you let them get deeper in the game, that's kind of when they get their feel and they really get tougher."

The strikeout of Markakis started a stretch during which Danks retired 10 straight Orioles. Danks threw 31 pitches over the first three innings. He then threw just 25 total in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, and didn't exit the game until Wigginton's one-out single in the seventh. He allowed one earned run on three hits and six walks over 6 1/3 innings.

With Danks leaving runners on the corners with one out in the seventh, the Orioles finally broke through when Luke Scott scored on Matt Thornton's wild pitch.

In the ninth, White Sox closer Bobby Jenks got the potential tying run - Adam Jones - to ground into a fielder's choice to end the game. Jones went 0-for-4 and is 6-for-44 (.136) in his past 11 games. Overall, the Orioles went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position and stranded 11 runners.

"There's the difference between a guy that's got a little experience and a rookie guy out there," Trembley said, comparing the outings of Danks and Hernandez. "Danks found a way to make some pitches. [Markakis] had a hell of an at-bat, fouling him off, fouling him off. I thought we needed three more hits tonight to get us a lead - and we didn't get that."

While Danks battled through his command problems, Hernandez (4-6) never could and lost for the fourth time in five starts. He allowed three earned runs on three hits and three walks. He also hit a batter and threw a wild pitch, and needed 96 pitches to get through four innings.

It was the third time in five starts that he didn't make it through five innings. He described his outing as "subpar," and was particularly annoyed by walking leadoff man Jim Thome and then hitting Quentin to start Chicago's two-run fourth.

"I felt like I put it together there in the third inning," he said. "I had a nice quick inning and started to get some momentum. Just in the fourth inning, once again, it just unraveled. I guess it's part of walking the leadoff guy. You got to be able to get the leadoff guy out. Otherwise, it's going to be that much more difficult."

Difficult, but not impossible, as Danks proved Saturday night.

Box score

for Saturday's game PG 4

ORIOLES@ WHITE SOX

Today, 2:05 p.m.

TV: MASN HD

Radio: 105.7 FM

Inside

With increased playing time, Pie on a tear in August PG 5

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