Adam Jones reacts after flailing at an offspeed pitch way out… (Baltimore Sun photo by Gene…)
As draining and deflating as the first half was, perhaps it would have been more beneficial had the Orioles just kept playing after last Sunday, rather than leaving Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Texas, and dispersing to different parts of the country for their All-Star break.
Sure, they had four days to revel in a four-game winning streak and lick their many wounds, but all the momentum they had built in a surprising sweep of the American League West Division-leading Texas Rangers over the weekend was gone very early Friday night when starter Brad Bergesen put his teammates in a hole from which they could never dig out.
Bergesen allowed runs in each of the first three innings, and the Orioles got little going against Toronto Blue Jays starter Ricky Romero, who allowed two unearned runs over seven innings in a 4-2 victory in front of an announced 18,120 at Camden Yards. The Blue Jays improved to 7-0 against the Orioles this season, the first time they've done that in team history.
"I think we all needed a break," said center fielder Adam Jones, who struck out in the eighth inning with runners on second and third and two outs. "It's a grind getting on the field every single day. The temperature is starting to get hot. It was good to get that break. I think we all needed it and deserved it. It didn't happen for us tonight, but that's the best part. We'll come out tomorrow swinging it."
The Orioles (29-60) had chances to extend their winning streak to a season-high five games, but they couldn't recapture the late-game heroics and the key hits that figured so prominently in their sweep of Texas harder.
They had runners on second and third and two outs in the fifth, and Romero struck out Corey Patterson to preserve a one-run advantage. They had the same situation in the seventh, and Romero fanned Cesar Izturis to keep the Orioles' deficit at two runs. And the Orioles were trailing 4-2 with men on second and third and two outs in the eighth when Shawn Camp got Jones to chase an off-speed pitch out of the zone for the center fielder's third strikeout of the night.
Toronto closer Kevin Gregg then pitched a perfect ninth, needing just six pitches to retire the Orioles in order, ending the game on a three-pitch strikeout of Julio Lugo. But the tone was set by Romero, who retired the first 12 batters that he faced on just 41 pitches and allowed just two balls to get out of the infield during that span.
The Orioles' lone All-Star, Ty Wigginton, got the first hit against Romero with a leadoff single in the fifth, the inning where the home team put up two runs with the help of errors by Toronto left fielder Fred Lewis and third baseman Edwin Encarnacion.
Romero (7-6) allowed just five hits and struck out five; he's allowed just one earned run and 11 hits in 16 innings against the Orioles this season.
"Romero made some pitches when he needed to there," Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel said. "Not one [at-bat] sticks out, but we had opportunities and we didn't get that one big hit."
Bergesen had another uneven performance in extending his career-long losing streak to five games. The right-hander hasn't won since May 12, a span of eight starts.
Friday night was a struggle from the outset as he started the game by allowing a leadoff double to Lewis, who eventually scored on Vernon Wells' sacrifice fly. Second baseman Aaron Hill, who is becoming the latest in a long line of Oriole killers that still inhabit the American League East, made it 2-0 with a solo homer in the second.
He now has 13 homers this season, three against the Orioles. He's hit six homers against the Orioles in 22 games since last season.
Toronto then took a 3-0 lead off Bergesen in the third on Adam Lind's two-out RBI single. After that, Bergesen stabilized somewhat before he allowed a run in the sixth on Lyle Overbay's double.
"Early on, I struggled a little bit, felt like I was a little rusty," said Bergesen, who is now 3-7 with a 6.37 ERA. "But I chewed up some innings, kept us in the game, so hopefully I can build off that.
"After my outing today I was sitting there with [pitching coach Rick Kranitz] in the dugout and we were talking about ... how close I feel to really putting in good solid outings," Bergesen said. "Today was close. If I could put up a zero in that last inning, it would be that much better -- a quality start. But I wasn't able to get it done."
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