Small crowd, big problems for O's in loss

Royals 4, Orioles 3

Mistakes doom Orioles in loss to Royals before announced 9,299

  • Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis is shown in front of a sparse crowd at Camden Yards. An announced 9,299 showed up to watch the Royals' 4-3 victory.
Orioles shortstop Cesar Izturis is shown in front of a sparse… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
May 18, 2010|By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun

On a miserable, rainy, windy evening at Camden Yards, the Orioles' all-around performance in a 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals was befitting the nasty weather and the apathy emanating from the soaked, near-record-low crowd.

The Orioles made base-running blunders and defensive miscues, failed to get big hits and mixed in a run-scoring balk for good measure. The game was officially lost in the ninth, when Ty Wigginton and Miguel Tejada, the Orioles' best run producers this season, couldn't take advantage of a bases-loaded opportunity, striking out and grounding out, respectively, against Royals All-Star closer Joakim Soria.

But the frustration of the night -- and of the 12-27 season -- boiled over for all to see at the end of the eighth, when center fielder Adam Jones grounded into an inning-ending double play and then heaved his helmet about 50 feet down the right-field line.

Afterward, Jones, who slowly retrieved the helmet before heading to center, summed up his feelings, his performance and the Orioles' start to the season.

"I have had so many damn opportunities this year and haven't done a damned thing," said Jones, who had a bunt single in four at-bats and is now hitting .245. "I've got to handle it better. Point blank."

The Orioles have dropped three straight to reach a season-worst 15 games under .500 and are 3-4 on an eight-game homestand against three other scuffling American League teams: the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians and Royals.

"We should beat all these dudes. We can play with the Yankees, all them," Jones said. "It's frustrating that we are not. But we can. I know we can."

The Royals, in particular, are a team the Orioles have handled adeptly the past few seasons. Heading into Monday night, the Orioles were 25-10 (.714 winning percentage) against Kansas City since 2005. No team has a better winning percentage against the Royals in that span.

Perhaps the Royals (15-24) needed a little help, and their hosts obliged before an announced crowd of 9,299 -- second-lowest in Camden Yards history -- that looked to be about a third of that.

An inept offense again took center stage. The Orioles had 10 hits but only one with runners in scoring position in 12 chances. They are now hitting .221 with runners in scoring position, second-to-last in the majors, and that average drops to .120 in the club's 27 losses.

"There's nothing for me to say other than the fact that we're getting the opportunities and we're not cashing them in," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said.

Of the Orioles' three runs against Kansas City starter Kyle Davies (3-2) and three relievers, two came on groundouts by Wigginton and the other was Tejada's RBI single in the first. All three knocked in Corey Patterson, who tied a career high in runs and also stole his first two bases of the year.

Patterson's lone miscue was not scoring from third on a sinking line drive to right in the fifth, but he crossed the plate one batter later. In an overall night of mistakes, Patterson's hesitation was simply a blip.

Brad Bergesen (3-3) recorded a quality start by pitching 6 2/3 innings and allowing four runs (three earned), including one forced in by a second-inning balk.

"I didn't even know what I did at the time, but I found out after the game," Bergesen said about the balk. "They said that I kind of rocked back and then stepped off. It was a balk. It stinks that it was one of the deciding factors in a one-run ballgame. It happens. Lessons learned."

Bergesen, whose three-game winning streak ended, also learned a valuable lesson in the seventh when pitching coach Rick Kranitz visited the mound and told his pitcher to throw the ball out of the strike zone to Kansas City slugger Billy Butler.

Instead Bergesen elevated a pitch, and Butler -- who had ended Bergesen's season last July when he hit a liner off the pitcher's shin -- doubled home the eventual winning run.

"I was trying to put in the dirt, and it came out of my hand wrong and I just left it up," Bergesen said.

The young pitcher also wasn't helped by his defense.

Wigginton made an error that set up one run, and Tejada had a chance to turn an inning-ending double play in the sixth, but he was initially indecisive, double-clutched and then had to settle for one out while the third run scored.

Still, the Orioles had the bases loaded and one out in the ninth -- after getting a walk, bunt single and an intentional walk -- and failed to score the tying run against Soria, who picked up his 10th save.

Now the Orioles have to win Tuesday night against 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to salvage an even record for the homestand. "At the end of the day, all that matters is if you get an 'L' or a 'W,' " Wigginton said. "Unfortunately, we were on the wrong side of that. We got the 'L.' "

dan.connolly@baltsun.com

http://twitter.com/danconnollysun

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