Orioles 8, Tigers 4
A minor league rush-job can be disastrous, as the Baltimore Orioles found out earlier this week when they called up 23-year-old Denny Bautista, sight unseen, from Class AA, only to discover he was a baby-faced kid with braces who had no business being on a major league mound and knew it.
That experiment lasted three days, and the Orioles now must wait to see if any permanent psychological damage was inflicted.
In the case of Daniel Cabrera, however, the experiment is now nearly three weeks old, and the results are far more encouraging. Though his raw ability is arguably no better than Bautista's, the precocious 6-foot-7 right-hander continues to exhibit poise and fortitude befitting a major-leaguer.
One night after turning 23, Cabrera picked up his third win in four starts, grinding through five innings in an 8-4 victory over the Detroit Tigers in front of 30,440 at Comerica Park, the Orioles' second straight win following seven straight losses.
There is ample evidence to suggest Cabrera's run of good fortune cannot last, but for now he is the closest thing the team has to a consistent starting pitcher.
Cabrera, who owned just five professional starts above the low-Class A level when the Orioles called him up from Class AA Bowie on May 13, came armed with a 94-mph fastball Saturday night. But his greatest assets were his resiliency and resourcefulness.
"When he had to get someone out," Manager Lee Mazzilli said, "he did."
His night was a constant struggle -- he put the leadoff man on base in four of the five innings, issued four walks and gave up seven hits -- and it took an act of faith for Mazzilli to leave him on the mound with the bases loaded and two outs in the fifth, holding a 7-3 lead.
"He was one pitch away" from qualifying for the win, Mazzilli said. "You try to get him a win."
After Cabrera's departure, left-hander John Parrish ensured there would be no bullpen meltdown on this night, delivering four superb innings in which he allowed only two balls to leave the infield, and gaining his first major league save.
"I was looking for Parrish to get through the seventh," Mazzilli said. "But he was throwing the ball so well."
Meantime, the Orioles pounded the Tigers' own rush-job right-hander, Jeremy Bonderman, who made the jump from Class A to the majors last season at the age of 20. Having thrown seven innings in each of his last three starts, Bonderman (4-4) this time failed to make it out of the third inning, yielding 10 hits to 17 batters.
Orioles left fielder Larry Bigbie had three RBI, including a pair on a sharp single to center in the third inning that drove Bonderman from the game.
Shortstop Miguel Tejada later homered in the ninth against lefty Steve Colyer, Tejada's third homer in as many games.
By now, Cabrera must think you get a 1-0 lead every time you go to the mound in the big leagues, because the Orioles have given him exactly that in the top of the first inning in all four of his starts. But for the second straight start, he gave that run back in the bottom of the first.
He muddled through five innings but made his biggest pitch of the night on his last pitch of the night.
Holding a 7-3 lead in the fifth, Cabrera loaded the bases with two outs on an infield single and a pair of walks, then fell behind 3-1 to Tigers catcher Brandon Inge. With Parrish warming up furiously in the Orioles' bullpen, Cabrera threw Inge a 3-1 fastball, which Inge fouled back, then another fastball that induced a weak grounder to second base to end the inning.
On his way back to the dugout, Cabrera (3-1) slapped his glove once, pumped his fist rhythmically, then high-jumped over the first base line.
"What pitcher [would not] be happy to make four starts and get three wins?" Cabrera said. "I'm really happy."
Orioles Notes: The intrigue surrounding the team's overcrowded second base situation grew, as Brian Roberts got another night off -- his second in a week -- and Jerry Hairston went 2 for 5 with a pair of RBI.
Roberts has hit .143 since Hairston was activated from the disabled list May 13. "It's just a day off," Mazzilli said, adding that Roberts would be back at second base on Sunday. . . .
Left-hander Matt Riley threw four no-hit innings in his first start for Class AAA Ottawa since being activated from the disabled list.