Nothing goes right as Orioles lose to Indians, 8-3, fall below .500

Orioles have now lost six in a row thanks to lousy pitching, unproductive bats

April 16, 2011|By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun

CLEVELAND — — The starting pitching is floundering on a daily basis with the normally-reliable Jeremy Guthrie becoming the latest Oriole to deliver a poor outing.

The revamped lineup – at least production-wise – looks a whole lot like last year's underperforming model. The defense matched the conditions today at Progressive Field: sloppy and uneven.

Is it any wonder why the Orioles have lost six in a row?

The Orioles officially fell below the .500 mark with another subpar team performance in an 8-3 loss to the surprising Cleveland Indians in front of an announced crowd of 10,714.

A defeat Sunday would result in a three-game sweep and give the Orioles a winless five-game road trip.

"It's obviously frustrating to start out 4-0 and feel like things are rolling pretty good and all of a sudden you hit a skid like this," said second baseman Brian Roberts. "But we also feel like we're not necessarily clicking on all cylinders at this point, to say the least. It would be one thing if we were playing great, everybody was swinging the bat great and we were losing. Hopefully things will start to turn around a little bit and we'll get hot again."

The Orioles (6-7) had to wait around for their latest loss as today's 1:05 scheduled first pitch was delayed two hours and three minutes by rain and inclement weather. By the bottom of the third, they already trailed, 6-1, and were left hoping that the rain would return. It did sporadically, but there was nothing saving the Orioles on this day.

They closed to within 6-3 heading into the bottom of the seventh inning before struggling reliever Michael Gonzalez surrendered a two-run homer to Orlando Cabrera.

"It's not the gloom and doom that everybody makes it out to be," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. "We've given up 16 runs in two games. We had our opportunities today. I'll dwell on that a little bit. We had the tying run, the go-ahead run up there. We kept grinding away at it. Jeremy wasn't as crisp as he's spoiled us with. Keep in mind that he's still working his way through some health issues. He's only going to get better and better."

In his first two outings, Guthrie had allowed just one earned run, seven hits and two walks over 14 innings. That including a gutsy six-inning, one-run performance against the Texas Rangers in his previous outing, which came just five days after he was released from the hospital following a bout with pneumonia.

Facing the team today that drafted him and then put him on waivers before the 2007 season, Guthrie (1-2) was knocked around for six earned runs, 10 hits and a walk over five innings, and admitted later that he still feels weak from the pneumonia.

Oriole starters now have a 9.32 ERA during the six-game losing streak.

"That first inning, he looked real good. He was hitting his spots, throwing real well. That second inning, he just started leaving stuff out on his arm side and it started trailing back toward the plate," said catcher Jake Fox who hit a homer and a triple, but had two passed balls. "If you leave pitches out over the plate and up a little bit, they're going to get hit hard, especially to a team that is hot right now. The Indians are hitting the ball well. They are playing well. You can't make too many mistakes because they'll make you pay for it."

A day after rookie Zach Britton allowed four runs in the third inning to put the Orioles in a hole, Guthrie gave up two in the second on Orlando Cabrera's RBI groundout and Matt LaPorta's one-out double. He struck out the final two batters in the inning to avoid further damage, but that form didn't carry over to the third inning.

Shin-Soo Choo hit a solo homer and then the Indians strung together four consecutive two-out hits to take the 6-1 lead. Travis Hafner dribbled a double down the left-field line. Orlando Cabrera drove him in with a single, and then moved to second on center fielder Adam Jones' errant throw home.

Travis Buck hit an RBI double over Nick Markakis' head in right field, and LaPorta completed the damage with an RBI single. Asked what was missing, Guthrie said, "Outs were the biggest thing we were missing, especially in the third inning. Getting the third out didn't work out too well for me."

Trailing 6-1 with their lone run at that point coming on Fox's solo homer in the third, the Orioles had several chances to get back in the game. Luke Scott's first homer of the season, a solo shot off Josh Tomlin that stayed inside the right-field foul pole in the fifth, cut Cleveland's lead to four runs.

The Orioles later loaded the bases in that inning with one out, but Roberts popped out to shortstop Asdrubal Cabrera and Markakis grounded out to end the inning. Mark Reynolds stranded two runners in the sixth by flying out and the Orioles managed to score only one run in the seventh despite having runners at first and third and no outs.

Roberts drove in a run with an infield single, leaving runners at first and second with still no outs. However, Markakis grounded into a double play and Derrek Lee struck out, leaving the Orioles' deficit at three runs.

The Orioles left nine men on base and were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position. They've now scored just 15 runs during the six-game skid, and the 49 runs they've scored this second is the second fewest in the American League.

"We had some opportunities there and we just didn't taken advantage of them," said Showalter, who said that he isn't considering juggling the lineup. "It's been a challenge for us. We'll get better at that."

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

twitter.com/jeffzrebiecsun

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