Orioles Chasing New Lows After 13th Consecutive Loss

Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields delivers to Baltimore Orioles' Brian Roberts during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara)
Tampa Bay Rays pitcher James Shields delivers to Baltimore Orioles' Brian Roberts during the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2009, in St. Petersburg, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) (Chris O'meara - AP)
By Jeff Zrebiec
Baltimore Sun
Thursday, October 1, 2009

ST. PETERSBURG, Sept. 30 -- This time, there was no late bullpen implosion, no slew of missed opportunities to lament in another defeat in the third-longest losing streak in team history.

The Baltimore Orioles were flat-out beaten, their 13th straight loss taking shape by the bottom of the third inning of a 5-3 defeat to the Tampa Bay Rays in front of an announced 10,554 at Tropicana Field on Wednesday night.

Allowed to get to the ballpark later than usual in Manager Dave Trembley's latest attempt to relax his club, the Orioles probably wished that they hadn't showed up at all.

In his last start of the season, David Hernandez was pummeled for five earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, putting the Orioles into a 5-0 hole and leaving him with a 4-10 record and a 5.42 ERA.

The Orioles' offense, which lost another key contributor when Luke Scott was forced out of the game with a strained muscle in his left foot, was overpowered by Rays starter James Shields until the eighth inning, when they scored three times, two of them on Ty Wigginton's two-run pinch-hit homer. Shields allowed three runs on six hits in eight innings and struck out eight, including six of eight Orioles at one point from the third to the fifth inning.

The Orioles (60-98) are one game shy of tying their second-longest losing streak in team history, set from Aug. 11-25 in 1954. There is clearly nothing good that has come out of this stretch, but at least the Orioles aren't hearing much about their run at 100 losses. They will need to win three of their final four games to avoid the Orioles' first 100-loss season since 1988.

As it is, the Orioles clinched a tie for their most defeats since the 107-loss 1988 season. They also lost 98 games in 2001.

A day after securing the longest losing streak in major league baseball in 2009, the Orioles added another dubious feat by tying the longest skid in baseball since the Pittsburgh Pirates also dropped 13 straight June 15-28, 2006. The last time any team had a longer losing streak was July 2004, when the Arizona Diamondbacks were beaten 14 straight times.

The task to break the streak now falls on the shoulders of left-hander Chris Waters, who will make his first big league start this season in Thursday's series finale. At stake will be a possible 0-10 road trip, which would be the worst in franchise history. The last time the Orioles lost 10 straight road games was Aug. 24-Sept.13, 2003.

Hernandez was chased from the game before the sixth inning for the sixth time in his past 12 starts. Overall, he went 2-8 with a 6.10 ERA after 14 starts following the All-Star break; the 24-year-old went 2-2 with a 3.94 ERA in six appearances before it.


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