Orioles third baseman Miguel Tejada makes a poor throw to first… (Reuters photo by Ray Stubblebine )
NEW YORK — Orioles third baseman Miguel Tejada stood motionless in the bottom of the seventh inning, his glove hanging by his side, his eyes fixated on the giant video board in center field that offered a reminder of the miscue he had just made.
It was Tejada who said after the Orioles' loss Sunday in Toronto that all the blame being showered on manager Dave Trembley was misdirected and it was the players who needed to step up and turn this season around.
If nothing else, Tuesday night could have been a feel-good victory with young rookie Brian Matusz being rewarded for another gritty start against the New York Yankees. Instead, it was just another painful loss as Tejada's throwing error on Alex Rodriguez's routine grounder brought home two runs and broke a seventh-inning tie as the Orioles fell, 3-1, before an announced 43,059 at Yankee Stadium.
It was the Orioles' sixth straight loss and their eighth in the past nine games, dropping them to 15-37.
Matusz gamely pitched into the seventh inning, allowing just a home run by Curtis Granderson and leaving the 1-1 game with men on second and third and two outs. David Hernandez got Rodriguez to swing at the first pitch and send a ball to Tejada, who threw a one-hopper that first baseman Ty Wigginton couldn't handle. Wigginton fell to the ground as the ball bounced away, allowing two Yankees to score easily.
Tejada's seventh error was even more painful after the Orioles had left the bases loaded with one out in the top of the inning. Javier Vazquez, who entered the game with a 6.86 ERA, struck out Adam Jones for the second out after a questionable call by plate umpire Jim Reynolds put the Orioles center fielder into a 2-2 hole.
Vazquez then got Julio Lugo to ground into a fielder's choice to end the threat, and his outing. He allowed just one earned run, on Corey Patterson's game-tying homer in the sixth, and four hits while striking out seven over seven innings. It was just his third quality start in nine starts this season.
The beleaguered Trembley had said before the game that he remained positive with his team's loss total mounting and speculation that he's about to lose his job, and believed the Orioles were long overdue for a breakout.
"Maybe one of these nights, we won't face Nolan Ryan or Warren Spahn, and every hitter we face won't go 4-for-4," Trembley said. "One of these nights, it's going to be our turn. That's how you have to look at it. June 1. You see all these other teams getting big innings, well-pitched games. I would certainly say it's our time. We're long overdue for some of those festivities."
Instead it was more of a same against Vazquez, a pitcher who has been so bad during some starts this season that has been booed off the mound at Yankee Stadium.
The one positive for the Orioles was the performance by Matusz, who allowed one earned run (three total) on six hits and three walks while striking out five over 6 2/3 innings. That he dropped his sixth straight decision -- three of them coming against the Yankees despite quality starts -- was no fault of his own.
It was a big start for Matusz, who had allowed six earned runs or more in three of his previous four outings. He had also lost five straight decisions, a stretch that started with back-to-back losses to the Yankees.
In each of those games, Matusz turned in a quality start, giving up three earned runs over six innings each time.
On Tuesday night, he got through the first inning unscathed, which was a big accomplishment in itself. Matusz had allowed four first-inning runs in each of his past two starts, losses to the Texas Rangers and Oakland Athletics.
He hit Mark Teixeira (Mount St. Joseph) with a pitch with two outs in the first but then retired Rodriguez on a groundout. He again stranded a runner in the second, issuing a two-out walk to Francisco Cervelli before striking out Granderson.
Yankees leadoff man Derek Jeter got the Yankees first hit by smacking Matusz's changeup into left field for a one-out double in the third inning. It was the 450th double of Jeter's career, moving him past Bernie Williams and into sole possession of second on the Yankees' all-time doubles list. He trails only Lou Gehrig, who had 534.
Matusz, however, stranded Jeter when Patterson made a sliding catch on Nick Swisher's sinking liner and Teixeira grounded out. Teixeira, who had fouled a ball off his foot during the at-bat, was then removed from the game with a bruised left foot. X-rays were negative, and he's considered day-to-day.
Jones' running catch in deep right-center field on Cervelli's drive saved Matusz a run in the fourth inning. But Granderson broke the scoreless tie in the fifth with a solo homer into the right-field seats on a 3-2 fastball. It was Granderson's third homer of the season and his first against a left-handed pitcher since April 22, 2009.
Patterson, who looked overmatched in striking out in his first two at-bats, answered with his own blast in the top of the sixth, driving Vazquez's 1-2 fastball into the second deck in right field. It was Patterson's third home run and the Orioles' first homer in 47 innings since Garrett Atkins' long ball last Wednesday.
When Luke Scott hit a double in the seventh inning and was eventually stranded, it gave the Orioles two extra-base hits in a game for the first time since May 25.