Orioles can’t break through against Hernandez, Mariners

Mariners 4, Orioles 1

Seattle starter gives up just 1 run in complete-game victory

April 22, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

SEATTLE — — For 2 1/2 weeks, the Orioles have tried to put their offensive struggles in perspective by saying every team slumps at least once during the season and their struggles have just been magnified because it's so early.

But after the Orioles were completely overpowered by Seattle Mariners ace Felix Hernandez, who went the distance in Seattle Mariners' sweep-completing 4-1 victory Wednesday night before an announced 18,401 at Safeco Field, designated hitter Luke Scott stopped trying and voiced the unspoken thoughts of his teammates.

"The truth is words can't explain how frustrated we are as a team and myself personally," said Scott, who went 0-for-4 on Wednesday night, is 2-for-22 on the road trip and is now hitting .170 on the season. "It's one of the tougher tests that I've ever had in my life. I'm on my knees every day praying, and I come to the ballpark everyday wearing holes in my hands. I'm working my hardest to get out of this. It is tough. I know we're better than this as a team and I'm better than this personally. The work ethic is there, the effort is there, just the results aren't there. It's a real tough thing to live with."

The Orioles, losers of 12 of their past 13 games and owners of a major league-worst 2-14 record, had a red-eye flight back east after the game and were due to arrive in Boston, where they begin a three-game series Friday, about 8 a.m. Thursday. They will then have their first day off since they started the season 16 days earlier.

"The off day will be treasured by a lot of guys, I'm sure," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

In a brief but loud pre-game lecture to his team, the embattled Trembley challenged his players to improve their effort and execution. He then watched the Orioles score a run in the first inning against Hernandez and plate nothing else the rest of the way despite having nine hits, including three by Nick Markakis.

Orioles top starter Kevin Millwood also pitched a complete game, but he was left to lament the Mariners' four-run fourth inning, which could have been avoided had second baseman Justin Turner been able to turn Rob Johnson's ground ball with the bases loaded into an inning-ending out.

Instead, Turner's flip to Cesar Izturis at second base was too late to get a hustling Matt Tuiasosopo. The next batter, Jack Wilson, cleared the bases with a three-run double off what Millwood called "the one really bad pitch I made."

"The big play in the game was the ground ball to Turner," Trembley said. "It sure looked to me like he backed up on the ball and that put him in a situation where he was in no man's land a little bit there. A better route to the ball gets him a little quicker to it, and the third out is made before all the other stuff happens."

Turner immediately went into the video room after the game to watch the play and see what he might have been able to do differently.

"I think if I decided to go to first, it would have been a close play over there, too," Turner said. "I think you just have to tip your cap to Tuiasosopo for busting his [butt] down to second. If I could do it all over again, maybe I try to go first, but I don't know."

Millwood had allowed only two base runners before the Mariners sent 10 batters to the plate in the decisive fourth, and he permitted only two others after it, one reaching on Ty Wigginton's eighth-inning error.

"I really didn't feel like I made a whole lot of bad pitches in that [fourth] inning. It's just some balls found holes," said Millwood, who fell to 0-3 after four starts despite a solid 3.38 ERA. "It seems like a half inning beats us every time. I don't know why, I don't know what we can do to correct it. We just have to keep battling."

The Orioles had at least one base runner in all but one inning against Hernandez but could push only the one run across in the first on Matt Wieters' two-out hit. Wigginton, who has been one of the team's only productive hitters, killed two rallies with double plays after Lou Montanez, the leadoff batter for the day, got hits.

They scored just four runs in the three-game series and have now been held to three runs or fewer in 10 of their past 12 games. They've been held to one run or fewer five times this season.

"It's a combination of frustration, it's a combination of anger and disappointment at the same time," Scott said. "I've lost many nights' sleep. It's hard for me to sleep with this going on. I repeat, this is one of the toughest tests I've ever been in personally as a man. The only thing we can do as a team, and the only thing I can do as a ball player, is take care of what I can control, work hard, put the effort in and be prepared."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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