Yankees 10, Orioles 4
At the top of the list of things the Baltimore Orioles did not need Tuesday night on the heels of a demoralizing road trip -- above such things as a couple of long rain delays, a team-wide stomach flu epidemic and a new rule requiring each pitcher who gives up a walk to remove an article of clothing -- was a visit by the New York Yankees.
No team exposes the Orioles, if you will, more so than the Yankees, who have whipped the Orioles so badly so many times already this season it may legitimately be asked whether the Orioles' problem is as much mental as physical.
There was plenty of evidence to support such a theory in the Orioles' 10-4 loss Tuesday night, which dropped the Orioles' record to 0-7 against the Yankees this season and 17-46 since the start of the 2001 season.
A crowd of 49,696 -- the largest in the history of Oriole Park at Camden Yards -- saw the home team suffer its eighth loss in its past nine games and its 22nd in its past 30. Few of those defeats were as excruciating to watch as this.
Orioles pitchers issued no fewer than 13 walks, a harsher indictment of the team's pitching staff than even the three homers it yielded, two to Alex Rodriguez.
"Thirteen walks?" Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "Not good. . . . You can't do [that]. You just can't do it."
The Orioles already had surrendered 43 more walks than any other staff in the American League entering Tuesday night, and on this night they came in droves. Orioles pitchers walked the leadoff hitter in three innings (and hit the leadoff batter another time). They walked the bases loaded once and walked a runner with the bases loaded once. They walked at least one batter in each of the first seven innings.
Each of the first three Orioles pitchers -- starter Matt Riley and relievers John Parrish and Rodrigo Lopez -- left having walked four batters.
"Everybody knows," Lopez said, "that we're better than this."
Riley (1-3) lasted two innings, yielding three-run homers to Rodriguez in the first and Derek Jeter in the second. In two starts since rejoining the Orioles' rotation following a stay on the disabled list and a stint in the minors, Riley has allowed 11 hits and 11 earned runs in just six innings.
The beating sent Riley's ERA soaring to 8.56, but without better options in the minor leagues, the Orioles have little choice but to keep sending him to the mound and hope he gets straightened out.
"If I knew [what the problem was], I'd try to fix it," Riley said. The Yankees are "an all-star-packed team, and you try to be too perfect, and you just miss off the corners."
Meantime, Jeter, having broken out of a season-long slump against the Orioles earlier this month, is hitting .451 (14 for 31) against the Orioles this season and .233 against the rest of baseball.
Yankees starter and former Orioles ace Mike Mussina, who missed his last start because of a strained groin, needed a couple of innings to settle into a typical groove. By that time, the Orioles already had scored four runs, on Miguel Tejada's three-run homer on a hanging curveball in the first and Jerry Hairston's sacrifice fly in the second.
But Mussina (8-4) became impenetrable after his early struggles, setting down 11 straight Orioles batters before the Yankees pulled him as a precaution following the fifth.
As a final indignity, the Orioles loaded the bases against the Yankees' bullpen with one out in the eighth -- on a trio of walks, no less -- but failed to score when Tejada popped up and Rafael Palmeiro grounded out. The Orioles' only hit after the second inning was an infield single by Javy Lopez, which should have been ruled an error on Jeter.
Orioles Notes: As expected, Rodrigo Lopez will return to the rotation Saturday against Atlanta, a decision that comes on the heels of the team's trade for right-handed reliever Jason Grimsley from the Kansas City Royals late Monday night. Lopez has a 6.41 ERA this season as a starter and a 1.99 ERA as a reliever.
"He's going to go in there and stay in there," Mazzilli said. "When you lose a starting pitcher you have to find one. And I didn't have one in [Class AAA] that I wanted in that role. There's no doubt he's the guy."
Lefty Eric DuBose, whom Lopez is replacing in the rotation, will see physician James Andrews in Birmingham on June 30 and could have arthroscopic surgery to remove bone chips in his left elbow the following day. . . .
Grimsley will move into the top right-handed set-up role previously occupied by Mike DeJean. In turn, DeJean will move into the long- to middle-relief role previously held by Lopez. Grimsley is holding opposing hitters to a .238 average, compared with DeJean's .347. . . .
Orioles left fielder Larry Bigbie left the game in the fourth inning with muscle cramps in his right leg. . . .
Yankees right fielder Gary Sheffield missed the game and is day-to-day with bursitis in his right shoulder. . . .
The previous record attendance at Camden Yards was 49,549, set on June 28, 2003, against Philadelphia.