O’s hope trip halts free fall

April 15, 2010|By Kevin Cowherd

Now it's officially getting ugly.

Remember how the Orioles' motto this season was supposed to be a variation of the old Al Davis saying: "Just win, baby"?

So far that's not working out real well.

Just nine games into the season, the Orioles looked completely devoid of life in a 9-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Wednesday at Camden Yards.

I heard MASN broadcaster Gary Thorne say maybe the Orioles should get as far away from Baltimore as they can to clear their heads.

Good idea.

But Oakland, where they start a

10-day road trip tonight, might not be far enough.

Maybe they should keep on going to Hawaii and lie on a beach and slam back enough mai tais to forget this horrible 1-8 start, which includes six straight losses in front of the home crowd.

This is how bad it has gotten: We had our first sighting of fans with bags over their heads Wednesday.

That's never a good sign. And it's only April. If this keeps up, they'll be wiping out whole forests for paper bags for the fans by the All-Star break.

That is, if anyone still bothers to show up at the Yards — the attendance figures for the past three games were 9,129, 13,731 and 10,248.

Where to begin with the latest round of bad news for the Orioles?

Their new closer, Michael Gonzalez, suddenly joined Brian Roberts on the disabled list with a mysterious shoulder strain that seemed to both surprise and irritate team officials.

Their No. 4 starter, Brad Bergesen, who pitched so well when called up last season, had his second straight rocky outing Wednesday. Did I say rocky? No, it was worse than that. He was Sunoco hi-test and a lit match. His ERA is 11.74.

They butchered balls in the field — Cesar Izturis and Miguel Tejada played

I-got-it, you-take-it with a ball in the sun in the first inning that opened the door for Carlos Pena's three-run homer, and Nolan Reimold uglied up a line drive to left field in the fourth that contributed to two more Tampa Bay runs.

The bats continued to slumber — they're now an atrocious 10-for-66 (.152) with runners in scoring position this season. Nick Markakis (.207) looks lost at the plate, despite his triple late in the game. So does Adam Jones (.211).

No wonder Dave Trembley seems utterly mystified as to what he can do to turn this team around.

And please, let's not have any bonehead pleas for Trembley's head just yet.

Sure, I was the guy who called for the Orioles to replace him last fall. And I still think they should have done it after the disastrous collapse of last August and September. Going into this season with a new manager would have signaled a new beginning for this team.

But this horrible start isn't Trembley's fault.

Not with his All-Star second baseman on the disabled list, his new closer getting rocked and ending up on the DL, no one on the team really hitting, and errors and base-running mistakes blowing up in the Orioles' faces.

How do you blame the manager for all that? Although, if this kind of losing goes on much longer, he'll be fired anyway. That's the nature of the business. You don't fire the 25-man roster after all.

"It's not how you draw it up," he said wearily of his team's start. "We didn't want to come in and start like this."

But he's trying to stay upbeat.

What else can you do when your team train-wrecks right out of the gate? And you still have 153 games before you?

"You know, it's not the end of the world," Trembley said. "We haven't played well. We expect to play better. We're going on the road and see if we can get one under our belt."

We'll see if this road trip helps or hurts this team. Because the Orioles' schedule for the next three weeks is a killer.

They begin this West Coast swing with four games in Oakland and three in Seattle.

Then it's a cross-country flight to Boston for three in Fenway Park, followed by eight games against the Red Sox and the Yankees.

Who knows what their record will be by the time that's over?

All we know now is that they're off to their worst start since 1988, when the club began the season with an infamous 0-21 swoon that was the worst start in majorleague history.

Heck, 1-8 — that's kid stuff compared with 0-21.

"Maybe it's the final purge," Trembley said of his team's shaky start thus far. "Maybe we got it all out of our system. Maybe this is the last of it — let's hope. It can't go on forever."

Although it sort of feels like it could right now.

kevin.cowherd@baltsun.com

Listen to Kevin Cowherd on Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 6 pm. with Jerry Coleman on Fox 1370 AM Sports.

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