Orioles 10, Royals 1
The numbers sat there glowing devilishly on the Kauffman Stadium scoreboard for about 10 minutes Monday night -- Baltimore Orioles 7, Kansas City Royals 0 -- and one could imagine everyone in the Orioles' dugout having the same dark, unspoken thought.
The Orioles had had a long flight Sunday evening and a full day Monday during which to digest the bitter proceedings of the previous afternoon, in which they had held that same lead against the Atlanta Braves, only to see it fade and dissolve into a stunning loss.
This time, however, the Orioles did what teams are supposed to do with such a lead: They added to it, cradled it like a baby and carried it home for an easy 10-1 victory over the Royals in front of a crowd of 14,521.
Rookie left-hander Erik Bedard (3-2) threw 61/3 scoreless innings, continuing a weeklong string of impressive starts by the Orioles' young rotation, and third baseman David Newhan added to his growing list of offensive heroics by banging out three hits, including a two-run homer, and scoring three runs.
The win was just the seventh in the Orioles' past 25 games, but it was an important one in that it eased some of the sting of the team's harshest loss of the season -- Sunday's horror show, which stands as the second-largest blown lead in franchise history.
"It was real important," Newhan said, "to not only get the lead, but to keep [the scoring] going. And then to hold it was great. You get your confidence level back up. It was a rough loss [on Sunday]. But it was good to battle back tonight."
Bedard's stellar start -- he pitched into the seventh inning for just the second time in 13 starts this season -- continued a welcome trend for the Orioles (31-41), who suddenly are awash in hot starting pitchers. Including Bedard's gem, Orioles starters have allowed one earned run in 301/3 innings and have posted a 0.89 ERA over their past six starts.
"It's a good sign for the young kids," said Manager Lee Mazzilli.
The dismissal of pitching coach Mark Wiley on Saturday stands as the midpoint of that six-game string, which means the trend began in Wiley's final days and has continued under new pitching coach Ray Miller.
Bedard said it was the best he has felt on the mound all season, "just because all three of my pitches, I could throw over for strikes."
Meantime, the Orioles' most significant free agent signee -- that, of course, would be Newhan, who was signed to a modest major league-minor league split contract 10 days ago -- continued to fuel the team's offense and fuel speculation that injured third baseman Melvin Mora is on the verge of being Wally Pipp'd.
In the top of the first, after Brian Roberts led off by roping a double into the left field corner, Newhan pushed a bunt past Royals pitcher Darrell May (5-9), putting runners at the corners with nobody out and giving Miguel Tejada an easy RBI with a sacrifice fly, Tejada's 62nd run batted in of the season.
Four innings later, Newhan came to the plate in a 2-0 game with Jerry Hairston on first base having drawn a walk. On May's first pitch, Newhan reached out and yanked a breaking ball over the wall in right, perhaps 20 feet inside the foul pole, for a two-run homer that doubled the Orioles' lead.
Newhan also played a role in the four-run seventh inning that broke the game open, as he singled and scored. Roberts had the biggest hit of the inning, a two-run double past third baseman Desi Relaford.
Since joining the team June 18, Newhan has hit safely in all 10 games, posting a batting average of .485 with three homers and 10 RBI.
"Now, he comes up," Mazzilli said, "and it's like you expect him to get a hit every time up."
Orioles Notes: The win was only the Orioles' eighth in 24 games this season in games started by left-handers, a trend other teams are starting to go out of their way to exploit. The Royals, in fact, have decided to put veteran southpaw Brian Anderson and his 6.75 ERA back in their rotation just in time to face the Orioles on Wednesday night. . . .
Mora was out of the lineup for the ninth time in 10 games because of a strained ligament in his left foot. His only appearance during that span came Friday night, when he was forced to leave after the fourth inning because of recurring pain.
Had Mora not played Friday, the Orioles could have placed him on the disabled list until July 3 and called up an extra position player.
"My only concern is putting him in and then [having] to take him out," Mazzilli said. "And then you have to wait two days and see if he can play again. That's not good." . . .
Veteran outfielder B.J. Surhoff is eligible to come off the disabled list on Sunday and said he expects to be ready to play on that date. . . .
Outfielder Jay Gibbons is being limited to designated hitter duty by a sore hip. . . .
Tejada had three singles to extend his hitting streak to 13 games. . . .
Before the game, the Royals acquired infield prospect Jose Bautista from the Tampa Bay Devil Rays for cash. Bautista, a Rule 5 draftee last December, began the year with the Orioles before being claimed on waivers by Tampa Bay on June 3.