Cabrera Again Struggles as Reds Thump Orioles

Jorge Arangure, Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 11, 2005; 11:43 PM

CINCINNATI, June 11 -- The problems Saturday began before the game in the bullpen, where the young pitcher was wild but his demeanor was tame. The icy glare that makes Daniel Cabrera so intimidating at times appeared to give way to a look of confusion. He couldn't explain it. But somehow, for some reason, he did not feel comfortable and it was certainly an ominous sign heading into a start. The fastball jumped out of his hand and cut six or seven inches to one side, and Cabrera had no idea why.

"That never happens," catcher Sal Fasano said.

Once again, the Baltimore Orioles lost an opportunity to separate themselves from their division rivals and once again, as has been a common theme this season, it was because of a frustrating start by Cabrera. In Baltimore's 10-1 thumping by the Cincinnati Reds, Cabrera lasted just two innings.

"That was definitely the oddest he's looked," Fasano said. "He didn't look comfortable. He didn't look like himself. He gets intense when he pitches, but today he wasn't intense."

At this point, Cabrera does not appear ready to be a consistent starter in the majors. Psychological tests administered by the Orioles in the past several years indicated Cabrera has tremendous poise and desire. But his performance in the second inning of Saturday's loss showed neither of those traits. Cabrera (5-5) allowed a single to Adam Dunn to start the inning and then forced a hard ground ball from Rich Aurilia that seemed to swallow up Miguel Tejada.

The shortstop could not make a play on the ground ball, which put two men on base with no outs. It was at this point that Cabrera seemed to lose control of himself and the game.

He walked the next two batters, which scored a run.

"I don't want to think that mishap changed something because that can't be," Orioles Manager Lee Mazzilli said.

Cabrera seemed incapable of throwing a strike. His pitches sailed wide or landed high. Just as he is capable of throwing a 96-mph fastball, Cabrera also is able to quickly lose his mechanics on the mound.

"It's tough for us because we try to help him, but we can't," Tejada said.

With the bases loaded, Cabrera threw mostly fastballs, likely because he lost all confidence in his other pitches.

"I didn't feel good and that's not supposed to happen," Cabrera said.

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