Orioles Take Beating From Devil Rays
Devil Rays 13, Orioles 3
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 8, 2004; Page D01
BALTIMORE, July 7 -- By the top of the ninth inning Wednesday night, with the rain getting harder, the crowd thinning out to a handful of masochistic die-hards, the opponents traipsing around the bases unfettered and yet another ineffective reliever struggling to retain his dignity, the Baltimore Orioles suddenly discovered that, yes, there was still one more step down into their bottomless pit of humiliation.
On a night the Orioles' bullpen was asked to cover an entire game, it certainly did record all 27 outs. However, in between those outs, they were pounded and embarrassed in a lifeless 13-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Devil Rays.
At this point, the all-star break cannot come soon enough.
In the aftermath of one of the team's most thorough defeats, right-hander Rick Bauer was optioned to Class AAA Ottawa for the second time this season -- in order to give the team an extra bench player, to be named Thursday -- and this time he went down swinging. His target: the team's management.
"They said they didn't think I could pitch for this team, and they would try to get rid of me," Bauer said. "Deep down, yeah, I'm hurt, because I busted my [tail] for this organization. And to hear that, and basically just get kicked to the curb. . . . I don't know how to take that. I just want to pitch somewhere. I don't even care where anymore."
Minutes earlier, Bauer had mopped up the greasy remnants of a hideous ninth inning. Already having outpitched, outhit and outhustled the Orioles for eight innings, the Devil Rays took gleeful advantage of the Orioles' helpless bullpen, pouring on seven runs in the ninth, as Orioles relievers walked four batters and the Devil Rays sent 11 batters to the plate.
In the bottom of the ninth, when the Orioles finally broke up Tampa Bay's shutout with three runs -- including Rafael Palmeiro's 540th career homer -- what was left of a crowd of 28,081 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards cheered derisively.
Third baseman David Newhan's bat has been a welcome addition in the last few weeks, but the same cannot be said for his glove. On Wednesday night, he made two critical errors that led indirectly to five of Tampa Bay's runs. The first error -- which came with the bases loaded in the first -- opened the door for a three-run inning.
"You make that play, you're out of the inning with one run," Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "It could've changed the whole game."
If one had to single out one reliever for the honor of worst pitching performance of the night, it would go to veteran right-hander Jason Grimsley, who entered in the top of the ninth and retired one of the seven batters he faced.
His performance, though, was only slightly worse than that of right-hander Mike DeJean, who fumed at umpire Jerry Meals's strike zone while giving up a pair of walks, a sacrifice fly and a two-run double to the first four batters he faced.
It says something about the Orioles at the season's midpoint that their 82nd game was started by a pitcher, lefty John Parrish, who had not started a game in the majors in nearly three years. It says even more about the Orioles that such instances are becoming commonplace.
Parrish became the fourth straight starter to take the hill for the Orioles after beginning the season somewhere other than their rotation. Parrish, a middle reliever by trade, followed Daniel Cabrera, Dave Borkowski and Rodrigo Lopez, who began the year, respectively, in Class AA, Class AAA and long relief.
Parrish's 2 1/3-inning dud began a long procession of relievers to the Oriole Park at Camden Yards mound, each one seemingly less effective than the one before.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company