Jeremy Guthrie (1-5) turned in his worst outing of the young… (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd…)
Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie once again received no run support while he was on the mound Saturday afternoon.
This time, the offense's striking inability to take advantage of scoring opportunities even made a little franchise history, yet it hardly mattered in an 8-2 bashing by the Tampa Bay Rays.
Because Guthrie turned in his worst outing of the young season, giving up a pair of three-run homers and a total of seven, two-out runs in five innings, increasing his ERA from 3.00 to 4.09.
"I actually felt as sharp as I've felt all season," said Guthrie (1-5), who is now tied for the American League lead in losses with two others. "Unfortunately, I kind of wasted it, giving up big home runs with two outs."
Saturday matched Guthrie's shortest outing of the year and tied his career high for most earned runs allowed. It was the third time in 128 career starts as an Oriole that the usually dependable Guthrie has yielded seven earned runs.
Only once, on April 17, 2009 at Boston, has he given up more – eight runs in 4 2/3 innings, and only five of those were earned.
The Rays (19-14) have now outscored the Orioles 14-4 in two games in Baltimore. That's quite a turnaround from the opening series this season, in which the Orioles swept the Rays, 12-3, in three games at Tropicana Field.
"It's just about wins and losses," said Orioles' first baseman Derrek Lee. "It's disappointing to lose, especially two in a row at home. So that more than anything (is frustrating). But our offense can definitely make it easier on the situation."
The Orioles (14-18) now have lost five of their last six and were never really in Saturday's contest, which was broadcast regionally by Fox and attended by an announced crowd of 18,961 at Camden Yards.
Guthrie wasn't crisp from the beginning, escaping a 22-pitch first inning after yielding a RBI double to Evan Longoria. The big blow came in the third, though, when Longoria, who had played six previous games this season due to an oblique strain, hit his first homer, a three-run shot to left.
With runners at second and third and two outs, Guthrie challenged Longoria, throwing a 94-mph fastball that the all-star third baseman smashed an estimated 385 feet.
"He turned on it and hit the heck out of it. That's something I need to go back and prepare better, have a better understanding and feel for the game, and pitch better," Guthrie said. "It's very frustrating to not have the results you work for and prepared for."
Longoria had just four hits and hadn't homered in 24 previous at-bats against Guthrie, and that was part of the reason why Orioles manager Buck Showalter didn't order an intentional walk to Longoria to bring up Tampa right fielder Matt Joyce, who is batting .344 this season.
"There's always a thought to it. If you see Jeremy's numbers against him and you see probably their hottest hitter right now is Joyce, he's had a little success there," Showalter said. "And I like the matchup of a veteran pitcher and good catcher. We went to a place where we weren't trying to throw the ball."
Two innings later, B.J. Upton hit a three-run shot to give the Rays an insurmountable 7-0 lead. It was insurmountable because Guthrie was pitching, and so the Orioles' predictably could get nothing going offensively. For the fourth time in his last six starts, the Orioles have been shutout while Guthrie was on the mound — a span of 25 innings.
"It's only as much of a story as people make of it," Guthrie said of the lack of run support. "I don't think you have heard me make any story of it. I don't think you will hear that, so it's whatever the people who write or talk about it want to say."
Guthrie entered Saturday with the fourth-worst run support in the American League at 2.31 while Tampa starter Jeremy Hellickson had the highest at 9.19 per nine innings (minimum of five starts). And the game unfolded as the statistics suggested.
The Orioles managed just three hits in five scoreless innings against Hellickson (3-2), who walked five batters. That's eight base runners in five innings without scoring a run.
"We had him on the ropes a couple times and we just couldn't get the big hit," said third baseman Mark Reynolds. "He made his pitches when he had to. More times than not, if you walk that many guys, teams capitalize."
The worst example of the impotent effort came in the second when the Orioles loaded the bases with one out on two walks and a single, but Robert Andino struck out and Brian Roberts popped out.
The Orioles actually walked a season-high 10 times, and scored twice — on a Nick Markakis RBI infield single that bounced off reliever Juan Cruz's hand in the seventh and a Markakis' sacrifice fly in the ninth. Markakis had three of the team's five hits.
It was just the second time in club history the Orioles have walked 10 or more times and scored two runs or fewer. The first time was more than 35 years ago, when the Orioles lost 3-1 to the Chicago White Sox on July 14, 1974.
"What did we draw, 10 walks today?" Showalter said. "And we just couldn't take advantage of it. It's a rare opportunity against any team, but especially the starting pitching that Tampa runs out there."
The Orioles nearly scored twice in the eighth, but Tampa left fielder Sam Fuld robbed Matt Wieters of a homer by jumping at the wall and making a spectacular catch.
The club, which hit 1-for-12 with runners in scoring position and left 12 men on base, has now scored 12 runs in their last five losses and five runs in their past three games, leaving the hitters searching for a solution.
"It is tough. I don't know what else to say," Reynolds said. "We can't get a couple guys hot at the same time. All I've got is frustration."