Royals Send Ponson to 8th Straight Loss
Royals 4, Orioles 3
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 30, 2004; Page D01
KANSAS CITY, Mo., June 29 -- The losses are piled up high on Sidney Ponson's shoulders now, weighing him down, seeping into his skin, coursing through his bloodstream. Eleven of them this season, eight in a row, six during this nightmarish month. And the worst part is, Ponson knows they will never go away, even if by some miracle he gets his season turned around.
"Every time I get a loss," he said, "it's another loss on my [record]. I'm 3-11 now. It's no joke. If it's meant to be that I [go] 3-24 this year, well, let it be."
After a crushing 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals on Tuesday night, Ponson seemed as despondent as he has been all season. After his last couple of losses, he blew off the media. But when he chose to speak Tuesday night, the words spilled out.
"It doesn't matter how good I'm throwing right now," said Ponson, who allowed nine hits and four earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. "I [bleeping stink], bottom line. . . . I don't know what to say. I go out there and prepare myself, and it's not working out. I'm running out of things to say."
Manager Lee Mazzilli has told Ponson not to pay attention to his hideous record. But it is hard to ignore when it is posted on the scoreboard, printed in the newspapers and seared into your mind. The eight straight losses are tied for the third-longest losing streak in franchise history, while the six losses this month tied a team record.
"My teammates look to me," Ponson said, "but I'm not helping anybody right now."
The Royals scored the go-ahead run off Ponson with two outs in the sixth, when Desi Relaford smashed a fastball over center fielder Luis Matos, scoring Dee Brown from first.
A half-inning before, the Orioles had tied the game with a pair of runs, as Miguel Tejada tripled and scored on Rafael Palmeiro's groundout, and Javy Lopez followed with a 400-foot homer to left.
The Royals' battery of right-hander Mike Wood and catcher John Buck represented two-thirds of the team's net gain in last week's blockbuster trade of star center fielder Carlos Beltran. Wood (1-0), in his second big league start, outpitched Ponson, giving up three earned runs and failing to issue a walk.
With Ponson coming off an excellent (but still fruitless) start against the New York Yankees five days earlier, and facing a Royals team that had not won since trading Beltran, the elements were in place for a turnaround.
But everything began to go wrong for Ponson in the pivotal fifth inning, when a one-out walk and three straight two-out singles gave the Royals a 3-1 lead.
Two of the three singles were bloopers into shallow right field -- and on the first one, Jerry Hairston, a second baseman who has played only six professional games in right field, got a late jump.
"I froze a little bit," Hairston said. "And then I went after it hard, but it was too late."
One batter later, Tony Graffanino hit another blooper into right that pushed home the go-ahead run, and Mike Sweeney's sharp single to left made it 3-1.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company