Punchless Orioles Hammered by Hapless Royals
Royals 7, Orioles 0
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, July 10, 2004; Page D01
BALTIMORE, July 9 -- This weekend had all the makings for the Baltimore Orioles to put a few wins together before the all-star break.
Their opponents, the Kansas City Royals, entered the three-game series with Baltimore Friday night on an eight-game losing streak. During that time, their pitchers gave up almost seven runs a game. Their offense had not scored in 27 innings.
It was the kind of ineffectiveness that could make even the Orioles feel good about themselves. Before the game, Baltimore players joked that, at the very least, they weren't in the same position as Kansas City.
Now, they might be.
After a 7-0 loss to the Royals at Oriole Park at Camden Yards on Friday night, it's the Orioles with the incompetent offense and the losing streak, now three games. Despite a solid start from Erik Bedard, the Orioles' offense never so much as threatened to score a run against Royals starter Darrell May.
May (6-9), who gave up six runs to the Orioles on June 29, kept Baltimore off-balance by throwing consistent, first-pitch strikes to earn his third career shutout. Baltimore managed just five hits and failed to advance a single runner to second base.
"It was depressing, honestly," Orioles outfielder Jerry Hairston said. "You can get embarrassed in this game, and that happened to us today. I don't know what's going on, but we're not getting hits."
The Royals, meantime, broke a club-record streak of 32 scoreless innings with a four-run outburst in the sixth. Mike Sweeney doubled to score Desi Relaford and Tony Graffanino, who both made sure to stomp hard on home plate, if just to remember what the base felt like.
Two more Royals -- Sweeney and Ruben Mateo -- would cross home thanks to Angel Berroa's double before the inning ended with the Royals up, 4-0. They would score three more runs in the ninth, bringing back memories of Baltimore's last game, when Tampa Bay mercilessly scored seven runs in the final inning Wednesday night.
With the Royals' futility finally out of the way in the sixth, the spotlight shone even brighter on the Orioles' own offensive ineptitude.
Even when the Orioles reached base, they did so meekly. Of their five hits, one came off a bunt, and two were infield singles. In the late innings, the crowd of 43,947 showered each failed Orioles hitter with boos.
The players grew frustrated, too. After he struck out to end the sixth, Hairston threw his bat to the ground and whipped his helmet across the infield. Miguel Tejada reacted similarly after grounding out to start the seventh. He slapped his hands together violently before launching his helmet toward the dugout.
"Maybe we've got a team funk right now or something," said David Newhan, who had two hits. "For some reason we're just not stringing anything together."
The offensive failures cost Bedard the most. At times, Bedard made Royals hitters look hopeless, striking out nine in six innings, continuing a trend he began in his last start when he struck out 10 on July 3 against Philadelphia.
"I felt good," Bedard said, "but that's not how things went."
"He pitched great for five innings," Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "But he didn't get any support. We didn't swing the bats at all. I don't know, we just didn't look good out there."
Orioles Notes: Daniel Cabrera will start for the Orioles on Saturday instead of Sidney Ponson, who is suffering from a sore groin. Mazzilli said Ponson could start, but he'd rather rest him until after the all-star break. . . .
Jose Leon started at third base and went 0 for 3 after being recalled from Class AAA Ottawa on Thursday. Leon has bounced back and forth between the two teams three times this season, last playing for the Orioles on June 20.
"I was a little surprised to get back here so soon," said Leon, who has hit .143 in 13 games with the Orioles. "I kind of try to do too much when I'm up here, but this time I'll know better." . . .
Mazzilli seemed relatively unbothered by Rick Bauer's criticism of the team after he sent him to Ottawa on Wednesday. Even though Bauer said he'd been mistreated and lied to, Mazzilli said he would not hesitate to bring Bauer back later this season.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company