By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Friday, September 12, 2008
BALTIMORE, Sept. 11 -- After watching his team beat the Cleveland Indians, 6-3, on Thursday night, a tidy victory mostly devoid of the pitching misadventures that have become a matter of routine, Baltimore Orioles Manager Dave Trembley was blunt.
Said Trembley, "I need a few more of them for it to be a relief, let's be honest there."
The Orioles salvaged a split in the four-game series and won for just the second time in 12 games. But even more important, and closer to Trembley's point, the Orioles showed they were capable of playing a type of game that could make the waning days of the season a little more bearable.
"I think it's more the style we need to play in order for us to compete and to win and to be successful and to keep guys interested in the game," Trembley said. "It's probably as good a game as we've played in a while."
Right-hander Brian Bass allowed three runs (though only one earned) in 4 1/3 innings, good enough to keep the Orioles in the game. Lance Cormier recovered from a bumpy start, settling in for three innings of scoreless relief work. But the biggest key was that both men worked quickly.
"On a limited pitch count, that's huge to be able to go out and get a 1-2-3 first inning," said Bass, who made his major league debut as a starter. "It was a good way to start the day."
For the first time this month, the Orioles' top two run producers -- Melvin Mora and Aubrey Huff -- played in the same starting lineup, and it made a difference. With neither man in the lineup, the Orioles lost nine of 10 games. And in those defeats, the Orioles' offense scored just four runs per game.
On Thursday, both caused problems for the Indians.
Mora, who had been sidelined since Aug. 29 with a hamstring injury, doubled home a pair of runs in the third inning, upping his season total to 99 RBI. Huff, who missed time for the birth of his child, walked, doubled and scored twice.
Nick Markakis, back in the second spot in the order, scored twice and went 2 for 5 to snap what had been an 0-for-12 skid. He also made a gritty play in the third, hustling from first base to score, though only after he dislodged the ball by slamming into catcher Victor Martínez.
Cleveland tied the score at 3 with a pair of unearned runs in the fifth after Cormier entered with just one out and the bases loaded, a mess created mostly by Bass.
Cormier got pinch hitter Ben Francisco to hit a weak roller back toward the pitcher's mound. But instead of having an easy force at the plate, Cormier threw wide of catcher Ramón Hernández, then failed to cover the plate when Hernández tracked down the ball.
But the Orioles took the lead for good, with a little help from the Indians. Markakis led off with a single before scoring on Hernández's groundout. Huff later scored on an error by shortstop Asdrúbal Cabrera.
The padding was enough for fill-in closer Jim Miller.
Earlier in the day, the Orioles activated closer George Sherrill from the 15-day disabled list after the left-hander spent more than four weeks recovering from shoulder inflammation. But when the Orioles entered the ninth with a three-run lead, Trembley went to Miller because Sherrill had thrown a simulated game on Wednesday.
The right-hander Miller made good on his chance, notching the Orioles first save since Aug. 5.
"The first time, yeah, it's definitely a little bit more intense," said Miller, who settled in after allowing the first two runners to reach. "These guys, top to bottom in that lineup, if you make a mistake to one of them with two runners on, bam, it's a tie ballgame."
Orioles Notes: Jeremy Guthrie was scratched from Saturday's scheduled start after complaining of discomfort. Guthrie hasn't pitched since Aug. 29 because of arm fatigue. "That's what I'm doing each day, is just waiting for it every day," said Guthrie, who is still hoping to return before the season ends. "That's the hope and the confidence that I have each morning, hoping that it will feel better than the day before and I can get out there." Trembley said Garrett Olson will take Guthrie's spot.
As they did on Independence Day, the Orioles donned special caps in recognition of Sept. 11. The caps were navy blue featuring elements of the American flag within the Orioles' alternate 'O' logo. Trembley said reliever Matt Albers [torn labrum] will not pitch again this season. Trembley gave Brian Roberts a regular day off.