Orioles Take a Step In the Wrong Direction

Sam Perlozzo, Jaret Wright
Manager Sam Perlozzo yanks Jaret Wright after giving up six runs over 2 1/3 innings. (Jim Mone - AP)

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By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, April 5, 2007

MINNEAPOLIS, April 4 -- On his way out of the postgame interview room at the Metrodome, Baltimore Orioles Manager Sam Perlozzo took a wrong step and ended up in a janitor's closet. This was not the first time the Orioles appeared lost in three games in Minnesota. Wednesday night's 7-2 loss to the Twins completed an embarrassing sweep.

"We're not happy about these three days," Perlozzo said. "We thought we could do something a little better than this series, and we didn't."

On consecutive pitches Wednesday, Orioles left fielder Jay Gibbons stumbled while trying to catch a foul ball hit by second baseman Luis Castillo -- Gibbons landed on his behind -- and on the next pitch, shortstop Miguel Tejada allowed an easy ground ball hit by Castillo to pass under his glove for a dubiously scored single. What better way to sum up a series in which the Orioles were outplayed, out-hustled and outsmarted?

Baltimore made three errors on Wednesday and a total of four errors in the series. It could have been more except for a liberal official scorer.

"There's no excuse for that," Perlozzo said. "We're better than that. You've got to make plays. It doesn't matter how many [runs] the other team puts up. The game of baseball is to catch the ball when it's hit to you. We just didn't do it enough."

It almost was uncanny how the three games exposed each of Baltimore's weaknesses, which include a lack of depth, a weak back end of the rotation and a deficient bench.

"You can see why [the Twins] are so good every year," Gibbons said. "They take advantage of mistakes, they run the bases well and they play good defense."

In a span of a week and a half, the Orioles lost Jay Payton to a hamstring injury, lost Ramon Hernandez to a strained oblique, watched Erik Bedard fall flat on Opening Day, allowed the Twins to steal five bases in one game and had starting pitcher Jaret Wright fail to pitch past the third inning on Wednesday.

At the time, the price paid for Wright (traded for reliever Chris Britton) seemed reasonable. But after a woeful spring in which Wright failed to pitch into the fifth inning of any game, and after Wednesday's flop against the Twins, it appears the trade may simply serve the purpose of taxing the Orioles' high-priced bullpen.

"I thought it was terrible," Wright said of his 2 1/3 innings, in which he allowed six runs and walked five. "I thought the stuff was okay, but I didn't know where it was going. I got myself in trouble and couldn't get out of it."

On the same night Wright floundered, former Orioles ace Rodrigo Lopez, discarded after an 18-loss season last year, won his first start of the year for the Rockies. (He gave up one earned run in seven innings against the Diamondbacks.) Perhaps the Orioles moved too quickly to rid themselves of Lopez, who won at least 14 games three times for Baltimore. Including spring training, Wright has walked 22 in just 20 2/3 innings and has allowed 17 earned runs.

"After spring you look for things to turn around and it was just kind of the same thing really," Wright said. "So it's frustrating, but you have to move on."


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