BALTIMORE, April 18 -- A few hours before their game against the Detroit Tigers on Monday, Baltimore Orioles players continued to talk excitedly about their weekend sweep of the New York Yankees.
Some Orioles referred to the three-game series as their most enjoyable baseball weekend ever, one in which Baltimore produced 23 runs and New York owner George Steinbrenner produced a scathing media statement about his team.
Orioles starting pitcher Erik Bedard suffers through a rough outing, giving up eight runs on nine hits in 42/3 innings.
(Joe Giza -- Reuters)
_____From The Post_____
The Tigers pound out 16 hits to help dump the O's, 13-3, Monday.
Notebook: Brian Roberts isn't geting caught up in his recent power surge.
_____Tigers vs. Orioles_____
Today vs. Detroit
Ponson (1-1) vs. Robertson (0-1)
Tomorrow vs. Detroit
Chen (1-0) vs. Wells (1-2)
The successful series, players said, would give the Orioles something to build on.
Instead, against the Tigers, it gave them something to overcome.
In a 13-3 loss to the Tigers in front of 16,301 mostly quiet fans at Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- the lowest attendance ever at the stadium -- the Orioles seemed to suffer from a post-party hangover. Starting pitcher Erik Bedard gave up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings, the offense ended some of its best scoring chances by hitting into double plays and relief pitchers provided no reprieve.
The Orioles hardly resembled the crisp team that swept the Yankees for the first time since 2000.
"It was flat, just flat," Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "I'm not saying we came out flat, but it just wasn't there. This is a game you try to throw out and just come back tomorrow."
It was also a game that may prove difficult to forget. Starting in the first inning, the Orioles played like a dazed team, as if stuck in reflection.
Jay Gibbons's two-run homer in the second inning, Baltimore's lone offensive highlight, provided only a quick break in a long stretch of poor clutch hitting. With runners on first and third in the second inning, Sammy Sosa turned a 3-1 count into an inning-ending double play. When Sosa led off the fourth inning with a single, Rafael Palmeiro hit an easy, double-play ground ball to second base.
The Orioles placed only one player in scoring position during the third, fourth and fifth innings -- a stretch during which the Tigers ran away with the game. Tigers center fielder Nook Logan leaped and reached over the wall twice in the late innings to rob Gibbons and Brian Roberts of home runs.
But perhaps Bedard's collapse proved most surprising. The Orioles' starter came into the game with a 1.50 earned run average, fourth best in the American League. He had given up only one run in each of his starts, but failed to win either because of poor run support.
In the dugout before the game, Mazzilli raved about his 26-year-old pitcher, praising his control, his game management and his maturity.
"I just want him to keep doing what he's been doing," Mazzilli said. "He's changing speeds. He's confident."
Some of that confidence likely eroded Monday. Bedard gave up nine hits, including three doubles and a home run by Omar Infante.
"I threw some good pitches and they hit them," Bedard said, "and I threw some bad pitches and they hit them."
Aside from a perfect second inning, Bedard struggled with nearly every batter he faced. He kicked the mound and shook his head when he came out in the fifth inning, departing a game that would continue to spiral downward for the Orioles.
Reliever Rick Bauer took over for Bedard, only to give up five hits and four runs in 1 1/3 innings. In the fifth inning, he gave up a two-run homer to Dmitri Young that put the Tigers ahead 12-2.
As Young trotted slowly around the bases, the Orioles crowd -- so enchanted over the weekend -- started to boo.
That reaction put an exclamation mark on a complete 24-hour turnaround at Camden Yards.
On Sunday, there was frenzied excitement: A good crowd cheered loudly throughout an 8-4 win over the Yankees. Players celebrated a series sweep they described as monumental, one that had propelled them to first place in the American League East and gave them their first back-to-back series wins over the Yankees since 1997. "It was probably the most fun," Roberts said, "that I've ever had with the Orioles."
On Monday, there was eerie silence: The record-low crowd thinned consistently. Only a few thousand fans stayed near the end to ponder the disappearance of Baltimore's momentum while watching the Orioles trail the Tigers by double digits.
"You come off a weekend with that much emotion and of course you want to carry it over," Mazzilli said. "But there are games like this. This happens."