Orioles interim manager Juan Samuel reacts as plate umpire… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
Orioles right-hander Kevin Millwood pitched into the seventh inning in his first outing in more than two weeks.
It wasn't a pretty performance, but he lasted longer than his first baseman, his manager and his pitching coach.
Heading into the bottom of the seventh in Thursday night's 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Twins at Camden Yards, the Orioles had as many hits as ejections: three.
The announced crowd of 20,108 got to see Earl-Weaver-like rants from interim manager Juan Samuel and first baseman Ty Wigginton as well as a fan run around the field for about four minutes before being gently corralled by Baltimore Police.
Lost in the lunacy was a shutout by Minnesota's Carl Pavano (12-6) who almost single-handedly dropped the Orioles to a major league-worst 30-65 on the season.
But this game will be remembered more for the explosive tempers on display than Pavano's pinpoint control.
With the Orioles trailing 4-0 in the seventh, Minnesota's J.J. Hardy attempted to steal second, stopped halfway and darted back to first as Orioles catcher Craig Tatum threw to second. Cesar Izturis caught the ball and threw to Wigginton, who appeared to tag Hardy on both hands as he dived headfirst into the bag.
But first base umpire and crew chief Gary Darling ruled Hardy safe, which caused Mount Wiggy to erupt. Wigginton ran screaming at Darling and was face-to-face and chest-to-chest before interim manager Juan Samuel could intervene.
"You get the leadoff guy on and he goes first pitch and we get him hung out to dry. I felt he was out," Wigginton said. "Getting that leadoff guy out would be a big part in the game. You're four runs down, that's one swing of the bat and it's a tie ballgame."
Darling later acknowledged that he missed the call. "We looked at it, he missed him the first time and on a close play, he got him the second time it looked like," he said.
On his way to the dugout, Wigginton tossed the game ball into the crowd -- reminiscent of the time in 2007 when Wigginton was ejected at Camden Yards while with the Tampa Bay Rays and threw his hat into the stands.
Wigginton held on to his cap this time; it was his manager who did the lid-flipping.
Two batters later, Twins catcher Drew Butera singled to score Hardy as the crowd booed the Twins' fifth run.
After Hardy scored, plate umpire Bill Hohn looked into the Orioles' dugout and ejected pitching coach Rick Kranitz, who had been thrown out one previous time this season, May 5 against the Yankees in New York.
"I didn't say anything," Kranitz said. "I sarcastically clapped in the way that the umpire, I guess Bill Hohn took offense to."
Samuel then went directly to Hohn and began arguing furiously, pumping his fist and screaming repeatedly. He slammed his hat, kicked the dirt and then threw his hat, Frisbee style, onto the infield before walking off for his second ejection of the season and as a big league manager. The first came July 3 in Boston.
"I don't think I was angry tonight," Samuel said. "I just didn't think Kranny deserved to be thrown out. He did not do anything basically to deserve being thrown out. I don't know if they know that they blew the call and fuses were very short."
Bench coach Jeff Datz walked to the mound to remove Millwood, who pitched 6 1/3 innings and was charged with five earned runs and seven hits.
The Orioles were hoping that when Millwood returned from his brief stint on the disabled list, they would get the innings eater who kept them in games for the first six weeks of the season and not the pitcher who has been knocked around, especially in the first inning, for the past two months.
They got a little bit of both.
Millwood, who hadn't pitched since he allowed five earned runs in a disastrous, one-inning start July 5 in Detroit, allowed single runs in the fourth on Michael Cuddyer's homer and in the seventh on Butera's RBI single.
It was the first inning, however, that was Millwood's downfall -- as it has been for a large chunk of the season. Millwood, who was shut down for two weeks because of a right forearm strain, retired the first two batters he faced.
He then allowed a double to Joe Mauer and walked the next two batters before Delmon Young hit the left-center-field wall with a three-run double.
It was the ninth time in 10 starts that Millwood has allowed at least two runs in the first inning. He didn't give up a first-inning run in his initial nine starts for the Orioles.
"We thought Kevin threw the ball good," Samuel said. "Got a couple quick outs in the first inning and tried to be a little bit too fine with those hitters. But we thought overall for the time that he missed, he threw the ball very well for us. That's something that we were looking for from Kevin, and we saw some good things from him tonight."
Millwood threw 34 pitches in his first inning pitched in 17 days. The Orioles' hitters rewarded Millwood's effort by seeing five pitches in recording their first three outs against Pavano.