Blue Jays 10, Orioles 4
-- A free agent spending spree during the offseason loaded the Baltimore lineup, but left the pitching rotation barren, devoid of any stoppers or aces.
Instead the Orioles gambled, deciding to rely on a hastily thrown-together rotation anchored by young players who had yet to show the mettle or the abilities of an ace.
As the season wears on and the pitchers tire, the Orioles' pitching staff continues to sink the team.
The latest fall came from rookie Daniel Cabrera, who pitched just 21/3 innings Saturday, allowing eight runs on eight hits in the Orioles' 10-4 loss to the Blue Jays at Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore's fifth consecutive loss.
Baltimore's starting pitchers have not pitched past the sixth inning and have allowed 23 runs in 241/3 innings during the five-game losing streak. The team, during the stretch, has been outscored 43-13.
Manager Lee Mazzilli believes his starters are trying to compensate for the loss of starting outfielders Jerry Hairston and Larry Bigbie, both of whom were placed on the disabled list this week.
"I think they're all trying to pitch shutouts," Mazzilli said. "They have to get into the sixth and seventh innings."
Cabrera was wild at the start, falling behind in the count often, and never recovered. He walked two in the first inning, including leadoff hitter Reed Johnson on four pitches, and allowed a run on a sacrifice fly by Carlos Delgado. In the second, Cabrera allowed five more runs, including a towering two-run home run to right field by Delgado on a hanging breaking ball.
Mazzilli removed Cabrera after the rookie allowed two singles, a double and a sacrifice fly to start the third.
After anchoring the rotation during Sidney Ponson's first-half lapse, Cabrera is showing wear from carrying the staff.
On his off days Cabrera, 23, usually runs laps around the stadium, hoping to increase his endurance. The routine was part of his regimen, but a few weeks ago Cabrera stopped running for fear his legs would wear out. The season had already cost him much energy and Cabrera feared a crawl to the finish.
But after several ineffective starts, Cabrera believed abandoning the routine had cost him stamina. This week, Cabrera once again began to run. It did not help.
Cabrera is neither weak nor brittle. His 6-foot-7 frame is lean, but muscular. Perhaps Cabrera is tiring because of his age and inexperience.
Last season, Cabrera threw a career-high 1251/3 innings for Class A Delmarva. His previous high was 601/3 innings in 2002.
Already this season, the rookie has thrown 145 innings, which includes 271/3 innings with Class AA Bowie.
But neither Mazzilli nor Cabrera believed the pitcher was tiring, pointing to the rookie's 92-mph velocity as proof.
Instead, Mazzilli believes Cabrera has lost his confidence.
"He has to get back that little swagger he had early on," Mazzilli said. "I don't see that right now."
In his last six starts, Cabrera has allowed 31 runs in 29 innings.
"Perhaps I have lost my swagger and the batters come in here more confident," Cabrera said in Spanish.
The rookie sunk in his chair and looked toward the ground, confidence seemingly escaping him by the minute.
Miguel Tejada, who watched the development of three stellar pitchers in Oakland, said Cabrera's struggles are typical.
"This is the majors, batters are going to hit him," Tejada said in Spanish. "He has to learn what the batters are doing and then adjust."
The only smile of the day belonged to Val Majewski, who in his first major league start collected his first career hit in the fifth inning and scored on a single by David Newhan.
"I'm just happy to get the first one over with," Majewski said. "I'm sorry it came in a loss."
Orioles Notes: If the Orioles pursue free-agent-to-be Delgado, which the team at least is expected to consider, the Blue Jays' first baseman said he would listen to Baltimore's pitch.
"Let's wait and see what kind of offer they have," Delgado said.
Delgado is friends with many Orioles, and prior to Friday's game several tried to recruit the him.
With Rafael Palmeiro likely returning next year, Delgado would likely spend most of his time as the designated hitter. Palmeiro is considered better in the field than Delgado.