Orioles' bullpen falters in 4-3 loss to Rangers

Guthrie left after sixth inning with 2-1 lead

May 19, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec | The Baltimore Sun

ARLINGTON, Texas — A clutch two-out RBI single by Cesar Izturis off former teammate Chris Ray in the eighth inning set off a celebration in the Orioles' dugout -- and set the stage for another disappointing loss.

Nelson Cruz's sacrifice fly in the ninth off Jason Berken scored Michael Young and gave the Texas Rangers a 4-3 victory before an announced 22,321 on Wednesday night at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington. It was the Orioles' fourth loss in the past five games and dropped them to 13-28 on the season.

Young had reached on a leadoff double off Cla Meredith that hit off Izturis' glove and trickled into center field. Adam Jones sprinted in to field it, but his throw was too late to get Young. Meredith then walked Ian Kinsler before retiring Vladimir Guerrero.

Orioles manager Dave Trembley then brought in left-hander Alberto Castillo to face Josh Hamilton, and Castillo got ahead 0-2 before walking him to load the bases and allow Cruz to come to the plate. Jones caught Cruz's fly ball in medium center field, but his throw was off line, and even a perfect throw probably wouldn't have gotten Young.

The Orioles, who held a 2-1 lead until the seventh inning, when the Rangers scored twice off Matt Albers, tied the score in the eighth on Izturis' single. Izturis drove in all three runs for the Orioles, who had 11 hits but went just 4-for-13 with runners in scoring position.

"It was one of those games where we had opportunities to score runs and we just didn't score enough," Izturis said.

For six innings, starter Jeremy Guthrie worked his way out of jams against the best the Rangers had to offer and gamely protected the Orioles' one-run lead. But as soon as the visiting bullpen door swung open before the bottom of the seventh, the Orioles' fortunes' changed. The Rangers scored twice in the seventh off Albers without even hitting the ball out of the infield, taking advantage of two defensive miscues by the Orioles.

Catcher Matt Treanor led off the inning with a swinging bunt that went for a single. Julio Borbon then dropped down a bunt that Albers mishandled, allowing Borbon to reach safely.

After a sacrifice bunt by Elvis Andrus and an intentional walk of Young to load the bases, Kinsler tied the score with a groundout. Guerrero then gave the Rangers the lead with a hard grounder that third baseman Miguel Tejada couldn't handle.

That prevented Guthrie from winning his third straight start. He allowed one run on seven hits over six innings but was taken out after throwing just 90 pitches. That's the fewest pitches he has thrown in any start this season.

"In the fifth inning, he wasn't feeling well," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said of Guthrie. "[Pitching coach Rick Kranitz] told me that he wasn't doing real well, wasn't feeling real well. He had to make a lot of pitches so we got him out of the game. He had pitched in a lot of games for us, going deep. He just said that he couldn't go anymore."

Said Guthrie: "That's the hardest I've worked all season. I just remember looking up there after the third inning to see where I'm at, and it just felt like I had thrown much more than I had. It was a taxing game, for sure. A real battle."

Texas starter Rich Harden has struggled all year with his command, averaging nearly four walks in his first eight starts. He was particularly bad in his last start, against the Toronto Blue Jays, against whom he surrendered seven runs on four hits and six walks and needed 86 pitches to get through just 2 2/3 innings.

While the Orioles worked a lot of deep counts, Harden mostly made them earn their way on base. Tejada and Luke Scott did just that in the second, starting the inning with consecutive singles. After Matt Wieters struck out, Jones reached on a swinging bunt that loaded the bases. Slumping first baseman Garrett Atkins had the first shot to drive in a run, but after getting ahead 2-0, he struck out looking.

Izturis, who entered the game with just four hits in 37 at-bats in May, dropped a bloop single into shallow left-center field. Izturis' hit scored two and gave the Orioles a rare hit with runners in scoring position.

Hamilton cut into that two-run Orioles lead with one swing, crushing Guthrie's 0-1 fastball over the center-field wall with one out in the second inning. Hamilton's eighth homer went an estimated 405 feet.

Cruz followed Hamilton's homer with a double, but Guthrie eventually stranded him at third with a strikeout of Treanor.

It was the first of several missed opportunities that the Rangers would have over the next three innings.

In the third inning, Young's single, which left fielder Corey Patterson played into a double, put runners on second and third with one out. Guthrie struck out Kinsler on three pitches and then got Guerrero to ground out.

The Orioles' one-run lead remained through the fourth, but they might have gotten some help from the umpiring crew. Hamilton drove a ball that appeared to clear the left-field wall and then hit off a guard rail before bouncing back onto the field. Second-base umpire Doug Eddings ruled that it was a double, which drew a mild protest from Rangers manager Ron Washington.

However, the umpiring crew opted not to use video replay on the contested hit. Hamilton moved up to third on Cruz's fly ball to right field, but he didn't score as rookie Justin Smoak and Treanor grounded out.

Guthrie kept the score at 2-1 through the fifth, again retiring Guerrero on a groundout after two-out singles by Young and Kinsler.


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