Millwood let down again in loss to Blue Jays

O's mistakes lead to 3-run first

bats still silent for Millwood, now 0-5

  • Kevin Millwood dropped to 0-5 on the season as the Orioles were shutout by Toronto, 5-0.
Kevin Millwood dropped to 0-5 on the season as the Orioles were… (Reuters photo )
May 29, 2010|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

TORONTO — — It's bad enough that the Orioles cannot score any runs for Kevin Millwood, who probably goes to the mound every five days knowing that one or two poor pitches will cost him another opportunity for a victory.

But when the Orioles play the kind of defense that they put forth in the first inning Friday night, when four separate miscues led to three Toronto Blue Jays runs in a lifeless 5-0 defeat, it's impossible not to feel a little sorry for the 35-year-old pitcher, who is doing even more than what the Orioles acquired him to do — and getting let down by his teammates in almost every start.

Of course, Millwood, who took his fifth loss before an announced 16,360 on Friday night at Rogers Centre, wouldn't want anybody's pity. He's much too proud and has already accomplished far too much in this game for that.

What he really could use, however, is his team to get a couple of clutch hits and make all the plays behind him, two things that these Orioles consistently fail to do, especially on nights when Millwood takes the mound.

"It's just not right," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "What [else] are you going to say?"

Millwood was clearly frustrated and his voice was barely audible as he spoke to reporters, repeating several times, "I just got to make good pitches, and I didn't make enough of them today."

Would it have even mattered?

The Orioles were shut out for six innings by Toronto ace Shaun Marcum, went 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position, and had men on first and second with no outs two different times and couldn't even get a runner to third in those innings, never mind score. It was the fourth time they have been shut out this season, and they've scored just 17 runs during Millwood's 11 starts.

"We are letting him down," said catcher Matt Wieters, who was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. "He's going out there and battling. He definitely throws against the aces of other staffs, but we have to do a better job of putting together runs, giving him a lead, and we'll see how he does working with the lead for a change."

The Orioles, who extended their league-worst record to 15-34, have lost three straight games and 10 of their past 13. They are now 0-4 against the Blue Jays this season and have lost six straight and 15 of their past 17 at Rogers Centre.

Millwood's 0-5 start ties the longest losing skid of his career, set from Sept. 8, 2003, to April 11, 2004. He certainly has to shoulder some blame for the latest loss because he gave up two extra-base hits in the Orioles' ugly bottom of the first inning and then allowed solo homers to Aaron Hill and Vernon Wells in the sixth.

Overall, he was touched for five runs (four earned) over six innings in his shortest start since April 27. The outing left him with a 3.89 ERA, the lowest for a starter who opened the season with 11 straight winless decisions since the Oakland Athletics' Rick Langford had a 2.62 ERA after 11 winless starts to open the 1978 season.

"It's not going to do any good to blow up or anything like that," Millwood said. "I'll just keep going out and pitching."

What can't be measured is the pressure the rest of the Orioles are putting on their No.1 starter by failing to make the plays defensively and put up any sort of sustained offense. In his previous outing Sunday, Millwood allowed three runs in 61/3 innings against the Washington Nationals, all coming in the first inning on a bases-loaded triple that should have been caught by center fielder Adam Jones.

On Friday night, there were numerous mistakes that added up to the Blue Jays' three-run first. Getting his second start at second base this season, Scott Moore played Fred Lewis' grounder passively, and his throw was too late to get the Blue Jays' leadoff man. Lewis then swiped second base when Moore dropped Wieters' on-target throw.

"Again, I didn't make the play," Moore said. "Yeah, it's frustrating. Your goal is to be here, to compete and help the team win, and right now we're maybe trying to do too much and not letting it happen."

Hill followed Lewis' steal with an RBI double that should have been a single, but left fielder Corey Patterson threw toward third and not second.

The capper in the inning came from Jose Bautista, a former Oriole and the American League's surprise home run leader, who drove a pitch to deep right field. The ball bounced off the wall and away from Nick Markakis as Bautista made the turn for third. Moore's relay throw was off-line, forcing third baseman Miguel Tejada to make a diving attempt at stopping it. However, it rolled away, and Bautista scored Toronto's third run of the inning.

"It was terrible," Trembley said. "We gave them three runs right off the bat. You can't do that. Millwood deserved better. … Anybody deserves better."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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