Maine Struggles in Debut
Orioles Youngster Is Jammed Up By the Twins: Twins 7, Orioles 3
By Amalie Benjamin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 25, 2004; Page E11
Reprinted from yesterday's late editions
BALTIMORE -- In front of a supportive, if gradually thinning audience, baby-faced John Maine faltered in his major league debut at Camden Yards on Friday night, failing to make it through the fourth inning of a 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins.
The former North Stafford High star was told coming in if he pitched well he would have a shot at making another turn in the rotation, much like fellow rookie Daniel Cabrera, who is tied for the team lead in wins with eight. For now, Maine won't get another chance after he gave up four runs and seven hits -- he was sent back to the minors after the game.
The loss was the Orioles' second straight after they came out of the all-star break winning six of their first eight, all on the road.
Maine, 23, the Orioles' 2003 minor league player of the year, started strong, retiring the Twins in order in the first. After that, it was a struggle in front of 34,874 rain-soaked fans.
"Hits are gonna happen, walks gonna happen, but to be consistently that bad with the fastball, that's the biggest disappointment to me," said Maine, who was sent back to the minors after the game.
"He's got to go down [to Class AAA Ottawa]," Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It was good for him to see what the atmosphere is like. . . . He's a pretty sharp kid. He was well aware of what he did not do tonight."
Under a steady downpour and overcast skies, Maine couldn't hold the Twins. He teetered on the brink of a far worse pitching line, working out of a jam in the third with a double play and benefiting from Henry Blanco getting caught stealing in the fourth.
"Obviously, I'm sure he's a little nervous out there," Mazzilli said. "I don't know how much the conditions played into it, but he couldn't find the zone at all."
Reliever John Parrish had to be called in to clean up Maine's mess in the fourth, inducing Doug Mientkiewicz to fly to right fielder Jerry Hairston to end a two-on, two-out threat.
Before being called up, Maine had gone 4-5 with 4.26 ERA in 14 starts at Ottawa after beginning the season at Class AA Bowie. The right-hander had given up five earned runs over his past 30 1/3 innings with the Lynx.
Maine was long gone by the time his counterpart, Carlos Silva, began to tire in the seventh. With Baltimore trailing 5-1, Javy Lopez and Karim Garcia led off the inning with consecutive singles and Silva hit Hairston to load the bases with no outs. Larry Bigbie singled to make it 5-2, spelling the end of the night for Silva. J.C. Romero came in and, after striking out Brian Roberts, yielded a run-scoring grounder by David Newhan before Grant Balfour came in to strike out Melvin Mora and end the threat.
The Orioles squandered a potential big inning in the first when Roberts, Newhan and Miguel Tejada all hit nearly identical line drive singles in the direction of right fielder Jacque Jones. But a perfect double-play ball off the bat of Rafael Palmeiro sent the Orioles back to the dugout with just a single run.
Three errors -- two on consecutive plays -- and seven walks given up by Baltimore pitching didn't help, but it could have been worse as the Twins stranded 11.
The Twins added a pair of insurance runs in the ninth when Corey Koskie (2 for 4 with four RBI) hit a towering two-run homer off Buddy Groom.
Despite the difficult conditions and his demotion, Maine was surprisingly upbeat after the game, taking full blame for his performance in the loss.
"It wasn't that [the rain]," Maine said. "It doesn't matter. Their pitcher was there in it. Everyone else did. It was just me not pitching up to my capabilities."
Orioles Note: Outfielder Luis Matos was placed on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Thursday because of a contusion of his right shin; Maine took his spot on the active roster. To make room for Maine on the 40-man roster, infielder Jose Morban was designated for assignment. After the game, outfielder Darnell McDonald was called up from Ottawa to take Maine's place.
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