Orioles 12, Royals 3
-- For the last 10 weeks, the Baltimore Orioles have wrestled with an intensely delicate problem: what to do with two highly regarded young second basemen whose value to their own team is greater than their apparent value to other teams, but whose forced coexistence in the same lineup creates more problems than it solves.
And then on a searing-hot Tuesday afternoon, in the span of one inning, the Orioles watched both Jerry Hairston and Brian Roberts walk off the field after being injured, a reality that tainted a record-setting offensive display in the Orioles' 12-3 win over the hapless Kansas City Royals in front of 18,225 at Kauffman Stadium.
Both Hairston, who bruised ribs crashing into the right field wall, and Roberts, who bruised the pinkie of his right hand on a sharp ground ball, are considered day-to-day, though it is unclear if either will be able to play Wednesday night in Boston.
"It's amazing," Manager Lee Mazzilli said. "They both get hurt on the same day. Let's just hope it's temporary and tomorrow they'll both be fine."
Meantime, the Orioles crushed five homers and six doubles to tie the team record of 11 extra-base hits in a game. Newcomer Karim Garcia, acquired Monday in a trade with the New York Mets, paced a 16-hit offensive attack with a pair of homers while driving in five runs in his first game back with the Orioles.
"We're playing good baseball now," said shortstop Miguel Tejada, who went 2 for 5 with a homer, as the Orioles improved to 4-2 on the current trip. "This is the last half of the year. We can't wait until the last month. We have to keep playing hard."
Still, the mood in the clubhouse after the game was subdued as the team awaited word on its injured second basemen.
Hairston, who has been playing out of position in right field while the team decides what to do with him, crashed hard into the right field wall after making a leaping catch on Mike Sweeney's deep drive. Hairston braced himself against the impact with his right arm and immediately crumpled to the warning track, holding his right side.
According to a team spokesman, Hairston should be able to play Wednesday night in Boston.
An inning later, Roberts was struck on his throwing hand by a hard ground ball off the bat of Angel Berroa. Roberts recovered to make a throw, but it pulled first baseman Rafael Palmeiro off the bag. Roberts was taken to an area hospital for X-rays, which were negative.
With head trainer Richie Bancells already in the clubhouse tending to Hairston, assistant trainer Brian Ebel rushed out to check on Roberts. After making a couple of practice throws, he, too, was removed from the game.
The irony of the situation was impossible to ignore. For months, the Orioles had been unable to eliminate the dysfunctional dynamic -- diminished defense, fewer opportunities for other players to serve as designated hitter -- created by carrying both second basemen on their roster. Neither player had drawn much trade interest, and the Orioles were adamant they would not give one away, even as the players grew increasingly frustrated.
The game provided a matchup of each team's most promising young starter, but while Zack Greinke was a well-known and highly regarded bonus-baby as he rose through the Royals' farm system, Daniel Cabrera was virtually unheard of when he burst into the majors from Class AA Bowie in May.
Perhaps wilting in the 92-degree heat, Cabrera (8-3) lasted only five innings -- his shortest start in nearly two months -- while allowing 13 base runners.
"I felt good," Cabrera said. "I don't know what happened. But my last two games, I won [even though] I didn't have good stuff, and that's good."
Meantime, the beating the Orioles inflicted upon Greinke (2-7) was ruthless. In each of the first three innings, the Orioles hit a rocket-launched double off him, followed by a two-run homer -- the homers belonging to Tejada, Larry Bigbie and Garcia. Backup catcher Robert Machado added a solo homer in the second.
Orioles Notes: The Orioles named Dave Borkowski as the starter for Game 2 of Thursday's day-night doubleheader in Boston. Although Borkowski will be pitching on three days' rest, it allows the Orioles to start a minor league call-up -- either Bruce Chen or John Maine -- in a less-pressurized situation at home Friday night against Minnesota. . . . The home run allowed by Orioles left-hander B.J. Ryan to Kansas City's Ken Harvey on Monday night was the first surrendered by Ryan since June 30, 2003, breaking a franchise-record span of 81 consecutive homerless outings. "He's just been phenomenal," Mazzilli said. "His numbers are frightening." . . .
Both dugouts were warned after Royals reliever Ryan Buckvich threw a fastball behind Machado in the ninth, a half-inning after Orioles right-hander Eddy Rodriguez hit Mike Sweeney in the thigh. . . . Fans went berserk when Desi Relaford reached on an infield single in the ninth inning, as it was the Royals' 12th hit, qualifying every fan for a dozen free donuts at area Krispy Kreme outlets.