By Zach Berman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, June 28, 2008
In the top of the sixth inning of the Baltimore Orioles' 4-2 loss to the Washington Nationals last night, Daniel Cabrera watched the third strike zoom by. It was exactly what Manager Dave Trembley wanted.
When questioned before the game about what would constitute a good outing from the Orioles' starting pitcher, Trembley answered: three at-bats. It was no endorsement of the hitter Cabrera, who entered the game with 11 strikeouts in 11 at-bats and extended that streak to 14. Instead, Trembley wanted his starter to last long enough to get to the plate three times.
In Cabrera's case, the three at-bats resulted from Cabrera lasting past the seventh-inning singing of "God Bless America." His problem resulted from what came after.
"He pitched a very good game," Trembley said. "He had a lot of easy innings. He commanded his breaking ball, got a lot of ground balls."
Cabrera, who has yet to pitch through the seventh inning in June, started that inning with two runs allowed and four strikeouts. He was facing the Nationals' Nos. 8, 9 and 1 batters. When Cabrera returned to the Orioles bench, he had only mustered one out while allowing two additional runs. The Nationals' runs broke open a tied game, and Cabrera's final line was 6 1/3 innings, nine hits, four earned runs, three walks and four strikeouts.
An outing that appeared so promising for the inconsistent Cabrera ended with his third loss in five starts. Since starting the season 5-1, Cabrera is now 5-4 with a 4.53 ERA.
"Everything, my breaking ball, my fastball was working fine," Cabrera said.
The seventh-inning suffering started with a leadoff walk, continued with a Kory Casto RBI double and was further magnified by a wild pitch that brought Casto to third. After forcing a groundout, Cabrera allowed two straight singles before Trembley sought relief.
"He had it set up for him," Trembley said. "He had eight, nine and one. The leadoff walk and the wild pitch, they came back to be big in the game."
Cabrera's only other blemish was the first inning, when he allowed two runs. Between the first and the seventh, he displayed the skill set with which the 6-foot-9, 269-pound right-hander has teased baseball fans for five seasons.
Asked what was different about those five innings between the first and seventh, Cabrera shrugged and said, simply, "I don't know."
The most severe damage was done after Cabrera's desired third at-bat. That meant his outing was good enough to last deep, but not good enough for the win.
"Any loss you get is bad," Cabrera said.