O's Cabrera Extends Run Of Extra Ordinary Pitching
Orioles 7, Royals 2
By Eli Saslow
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, July 11, 2004; Page E01
BALTIMORE, July 10 -- It took Baltimore Orioles infielder Luis Lopez a few minutes, but he eventually found one word to describe Daniel Cabrera's pitching Saturday afternoon.
Normal that he gave up no runs and just three hits in seven innings to lift the Orioles to a 7-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in front of 33,493 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Normal that he's given up five earned runs in his last five starts, which span more than 37 innings.
Normal that, as a 23-year-old rookie who had never pitched above Class A before this season, he's become the Orioles' gem, their most reliable pitcher.
"He's done some amazing things, but we've come to expect that out of him," Lopez said. "He's just that special."
Cabrera continued to live up to such lofty expectations Saturday afternoon, saving the Orioles from dipping 12 games under .500 for the first time all season. On a near-perfect day for the Orioles that included consistent hitting and solid fielding, Cabrera's pitching stood out as the highlight.
"The thing that amazes me most is his poise out there," Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "He's never bothered by anything, which is just tremendous. He was excellent again."
And to think, the Orioles planned for Cabrera to spend yesterday afternoon sitting in the bullpen and watching Sidney Ponson. Not until Friday night did Mazzilli decide to rest Ponson because of a sore right groin and, perhaps, general ineffectiveness.
"It's a little soreness," Mazzilli said, "but we also want to rest him a little bit and let him clear his head."
That might require more than a few days considering Ponson's first half of the season. He's 3-12 with a 6.29 ERA, and misery seems to stalk his every step.
On Saturday, he walked near the locker room with a slight limp and grumbled, "I'm not feeling so good."
It was in stark contrast to Cabrera, who seems to have treasured his big league emergence over the last few months. On the mound, he oozes confidence, smiling widely after strikeouts and pointing enthusiastically at teammates after good plays.
In the locker room, he's just as bubbly. Even though his English is underdeveloped, he speaks that language to a horde of reporters after each game he pitches. When he forgets words, he laughs and apologizes.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company