Orioles Throw Another One Away

The Orioles' Brian Roberts avoids the Phillies' David Bell as he completes a double play in the first inning Sunday.
The Orioles' Brian Roberts avoids the Phillies' David Bell as he completes a double play in the first inning Sunday. (Joe Giza - Reuters)
By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 23, 2005

BALTIMORE, May 22 -- They are equally inconsistent, and frightfully frustrating to watch on the mound. From one day to the next their pitches run flat or don't sink, without so much a clue as to what caused such a turn. Sidney Ponson and Steve Kline have caused much grief for Baltimore Manager Lee Mazzilli this season with their unpredictability. Each had a part in Baltimore's 7-2 loss to the Philadelphia Phillies on Sunday.

Ponson, given a lead in the first inning, could not hold the Phillies. Kline, asked to keep the game close in the eighth, did not provide any relief.

The loss continued Baltimore's awful streak in interleague play. The Orioles have the worst record in interleague play since its inception in 1997.

"We're in the first series, I'm not going to dwell on it," Ponson said. "We're a good team. Let's wait and see. It's the first series; we can't come to a conclusion right now. What's in the past is in the past. This year is a different year, we have better hitting and better pitching, even though I didn't pitch too good today."

Prior to the game Mazzilli said perhaps one shouldn't read too much into Ponson's high ERA because statistics don't always tell the truth. He was partially right. At 5-2, Ponson's record appears to suggest he has improved from last season's disappointment. He began the 2004 season 3-12 and much of Baltimore's slow start was blamed on Ponson.

But in truth, Ponson has fared worse this season. Last year, after a loss on May 22 against the Los Angeles Angels, Ponson had a 5.40 ERA. He had walked 22 batters and struck out 34 up to that point in the season.

This season Ponson has a 5.83 ERA with 23 walks and 32 strikeouts. He has not allowed four runs or less in consecutive starts.

"I'd like to think he's going to be a pitcher that's going to be consistent," Mazzilli said. "He has the stuff where in the next game he could shut out the other team."

Ponson allowed home runs to Pat Burrell and Mike Lieberthal on Sunday despite the fact he had allowed just two home runs the entire season entering the game.

Burrell's three-run home run came on a sinker that stayed flat.

"The ball didn't sink and stayed right there," Ponson said. "It didn't go where I wanted. It went where he wanted."

Lieberthal's solo home run in the fourth was simply a mistake by Ponson.

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