Walker Falls Once, O's Stumble Twice

By Marc Carig
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, September 24, 2008

BALTIMORE, Sept. 23 -- Already in the midst of one of his worst seasons, Baltimore Orioles reliever Jamie Walker added to his growing collection of lows.

Walker blew a two-run lead on a night when he wasn't supposed to pitch, giving the Tampa Bay Rays a 7-5 victory in the nightcap of a doubleheader.

Walker's meltdown, combined with a blundering 5-2 loss earlier in the night, gave the Rays a sweep, sending the Orioles crashing to their eighth straight loss.

"Every night's difficult," Walker said. "It just seems right now the ball's not falling into place. That's a game -- there's no excuses there -- that's a game we've got to win. Your starter goes into the eighth inning, two outs -- you've got to win that game."

The Orioles came into the eighth inning, behind the work of Alfredo Simon, with a four-run lead. To that point, Simon had allowed just one run in his major league debut as a starter, impressive considering that he was playing in the Mexican League about a month ago.

But in the eighth, Simon had already allowed another run to score when Evan Longoria launched a tape-measure shot that ended his night.

The real drama, however, was unfolding behind the left field fence.

As Simon wobbled toward the end of his outing, Manager Dave Trembley called for right-hander Jim Miller to warm up. But as Miller finished his final tosses, he felt pain.

"I'm warming up to come in," Miller said. "I was about 20 pitches deep. Everything felt fine. And I threw two sliders and it just grabbed right next to my armpit on my right side."

The pain sent Miller to the ground, triggering a scramble to find a replacement.

As catcher Guillermo Quiroz stalled for time by visiting Simon on the mound, the 37-year-old Walker hurried to finish his warmup pitches. When he entered, the Orioles still had a two-run lead.

But that changed when Walker failed to retire any of the four batters he faced. His line: zero innings pitched, three hits, a walk, a wild pitch and four runs allowed.

CONTINUED     1        >

© 2008 The Washington Post Company