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 fixed 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.
Tuesday night would have been a good time to start, but instead, the Orioles continued their habit of finding painful ways to lose games. After two poor outings, rookie left-hander Brian Matusz gamely held down the New York Yankees over 6 2/3 innings, but Tejada's throwing error in the seventh broke a tie and brought home two runs as the Orioles fell, 3-1, before an announced 43,509 at Yankee Stadium,
"I mean we can sit here and say whatever, but I believe good teams make their breaks," said Orioles first baseman Ty Wigginton, who couldn't handle Tejada's one-hop throw. "Right now, we are not making our breaks. We got to find a way to do that."
It was the Orioles' sixth straight loss, their eighth in the past nine games, and their 13th in the past 16 contests. The Orioles (15-37) also have lost six straight games to the Yankees.
Matusz, who had allowed six earned runs or more in three of his past four starts, showed his grit in getting out of a jam with men on first and third and no outs in the sixth. He retired Marcus Thames and Francisco Cervelli on pop-ups and then struck out Curtis Granderson, who had homered for the Yankees' only run to that point, to keep the score tied at 1.
"I would say that Matusz showed everybody what he's all about and why we think so highly of him with the way he pitched," Trembley said. "A first-class, gutty performance."
Matusz exited the game in the seventh, leaving with men on second and third and two outs and Alex Rodriguez in the batter's box. Trembley handed the ball to converted starter David Hernandez, who got Rodriguez to hack at his first pitch and hit a bouncer to Tejada.
Tejada fielded it calmly and cleanly and had plenty of time, but his throw bounced in the dirt in front of Wigginton, who fell while trying to make the play. Wigginton said Tejada's throw kicked up at the last moment, preventing the first baseman from gloving the ball.
Tejada's seventh error of the season allowed both runners to score without so much as a throw home.
"I did everything perfect. I think the finish is the only thing that wasn't perfect," said Tejada, who made the transition from shortstop to third base this season. "I don't remember the last time I [made] a bad throw. I've really had a lot of concentration on my defense."
Tejada said the error hurt even worse because it not only cost his team a victory, but it also saddled Matusz with an undeserved loss. It was the rookie's sixth straight defeat, three of them coming against the Yankees. In all three of those games, Matusz turned in a quality start.
"The way he pitched, he pitched a good game," Tejada said. "It's hard. It's the kind of thing I don't want to see. He battled and threw a great game, a one-run game. I would think he deserved to win the game today."
To be fair to Tejada, the rest of the Orioles' hitters should share the burden of the latest loss. Trembley said before the game that he looked forward to the night when the Orioles didn't have to face either Nolan Ryan or Warren Spahn, a reference to his team seemingly making every starter look like a Hall of Famer.
On Tuesday night, they had their shot at Javier Vazquez, the weak link on the Yankees' staff who came into the game with a 6.86 ERA and who has been booed off the mound by his home fans on multiple occasions this season.
But Vazquez — like so many pitchers before him — righted himself against the Orioles, holding them to just a game-tying solo homer by Corey Patterson over seven innings. Patterson's shot into the second deck in right field was the Orioles' first homer in 47 innings.
They also enjoyed their first game with more than one extra-base hit since May 25 when Luke Scott lined a double into the right-field corner in the seventh, putting runners on second and third with just one out. Yankees manager Joe Girardi opted for Vazquez to intentionally walk struggling catcher Matt Wieters, who is just 10-for-48 (.208) with 16 strikeouts with runners in scoring position this season, and load the bases.
That brought Adam Jones to the plate, and after getting a questionable strike call by plate umpire Jim Reynolds to make the count 1-2, he swung and missed at the next pitch for the strikeout. Julio Lugo then grounded into a fielder's choice to end the threat.
"I don't feel like talking to nobody if you don't mind," Jones told a group of reporters after the game.
Trembley was left to put the latest loss, assured when Wieters grounded out against Mariano Rivera with a man on in the ninth, in perspective.
"We had the tables set and we had an opportunity, and it didn't happen," Trembley said. "That's all you can ask for. We put ourselves in a position to make a productive out. A sacrifice fly would have [gotten us] ahead, and it didn't happen. I think we're way past asking me about being frustrated or disappointed. We're way past that. That's an understatement."
Buy Orioles Gear
Clicking on Green Links will take you to a third-party e-commerce site. These sites are not operated by The Baltimore Sun. The Sun Editorial staff is not involved in any way with Green Links or with these third-party sites.