Orioles 2, Angels 0
It was another night for the Baltimore Orioles when the baseball game played on the field had turned into one of the day's lesser concerns. They are still not scoring many runs, but at the very least they stopped the defeats, snapping a five-game losing streak Thursday with a 2-0 win over the Los Angeles Angels.
The win came in the wake of the latest incident involving embattled pitcher Sidney Ponson, who was arrested early Thursday morning for driving under the influence of alcohol, according to police. The news ended any hope that Baltimore could regain some normalcy as it soon heads into the final month of the season.
After the game, Orioles interim manager Sam Perlozzo asked his team, weighed by so many emotions, to relax. This is the man who wants the unenviable task of leading the troubled team next season.
"Managing in the big leagues is a challenge," Perlozzo said. "I knew that from the get-go. Would I prefer it wouldn't be this way? Absolutely. Am I sorry about it? Absolutely not."
And yet Ponson's troubles aren't the only problems lingering around the Orioles. Rafael Palmeiro continued to wait as a Congressional committee continued to investigate whether he committed perjury when he testified in March that he had never used steroids. Palmeiro still hears a healthy mix of cheers and boos when he goes to the plate.
It only appears this team has suffered through more controversies than wins recently.
Of course, it hasn't always been like this. The team started the season blazing hot, spending 62 consecutive days in first place, but has tailed off considerably in the second half, not only falling out of playoff contention, but also out of the top three spots in the American League East. Now the once-proud franchise is struggling to regain respect.
Yet there is still a bit of hope by some Orioles that this season can be salvaged, that all is not lost. There was shortstop Miguel Tejada in the fourth inning as he raced past first base on a ball he hit that by all accounts should have been only a single. Tejada, dirt streaked on the back of his uniform, having nothing but pride to play for, barely slid into second base safely. Two batters later Javy Lopez, who had three hits on the night, launched a two-run home run to left field to give Baltimore a 2-0 lead.
"It seems everything is falling in the hole," Lopez said. "Today was one of those good days. I've been trying to raise my average. At this point in the season the pressure is on. I'm not as relaxed as I look."
It was the first time in the three-game series against Los Angeles that Baltimore led and the first time since Aug. 17 the Orioles scored more than one run against an opposing starting pitcher.
Baltimore starter Rodrigo Lopez struck out Angels slugger Vladimir Guerrero with the bases loaded in the fifth inning to protect that slim 2-0 lead. Lopez allowed just seven hits in seven shutout innings against the Angels and continued to dominate the Angels in his career, bringing his record to 5-1 with a 1.70 ERA against them.
"I'm pretty happy about this one," he said. "I'm pretty proud about tonight's game."
Perlozzo stood nervously on the top step of the dugout, hoping for more runs in the bottom of the seventh inning with the bases loaded, his mind clearly stuck on the game. He clapped his hands as each batter who came to the plate with men in scoring position failed to add to the Orioles' lead.
"I was sitting there thinking we keep making a mistake here and there," Perlozzo said. "And that's because everyone is trying so darn hard. And I appreciate that."