By Jeff Zrebiec, The Baltimore Sun
10:26 PM EDT, July 24, 2011
Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie insists that he's frustrated only with himself, not with his abominable win-loss record, his team's failure to provide him consistent run support or the constant trade rumors that swirl every time that he pitches.
However, evidence continues to mount that all those things have taken a toll on Guthrie, and perhaps a change of scenery is exactly what he needs.
His frustration came through Sunday in his demeanor on the mound -- where he uncharacteristically reacted to plate umpire Todd Tichenor's inconsistent strike zone -- and in a terse post-game session with reporters after the Orioles' 9-3 loss to the Los Angeles Angels in the series finale in front of an announced 15,676 at sultry Camden Yards.
"I guess it was kind of a perfect microcosm of my career in Baltimore if it did happen to be that," Guthrie said when asked whether he felt he had just made his last home start as an Oriole.
Despite leading the major leagues with 14 losses, Guthrie is considered one of the better starters available on a pitching-thin trade market.
Several scouts of teams looking for pitching, including the Detroit Tigers and St. Louis Cardinals, were on hand to watch Guthrie's latest start, his last at Camden Yards before Sunday's nonwaiver trade deadline.
What they saw was a typical performance by the 32-year-old right-hander, who made some mistakes, including a pitch that he left up to Howie Kendrick that led to a double and a run scored in the fourth, and a walk of No.9 hitter Bobby Wilson that prolonged the inning long enough for the Angels to score another run.
But Guthrie also logged seven innings and gave his team every chance to win the game. He surrendered three runs on six hits and four walks over seven innings, becoming the fifth Oriole in the past seven games to register a quality start. And as is often the case with Guthrie, it didn't matter.
"I've got nothing but good things to say about Jeremy's outing. It was impressive, with a lot of things that were a challenge for him today," said Orioles manager Buck Showalter, who was obviously referring to Tichenor's strike zone. Showalter twice burst out of the dugout to argue calls, both involving catcher Matt Wieters. Guthrie's "a guy that doesn't complain much, him or Matt, either, so try to keep that in mind."
With the loss, Showalter's team remained without a series victory since it took two of three from the Cincinnati Reds on June 24-26. The Orioles finished their second-half-opening homestand with a 4-6 record and are off today before beginning a 10-game trip that starts Tuesday in Toronto.
This was still a winnable game until the eighth inning, when Mark Worrell entered with his team trailing by just a run and exited with the Orioles down 8-2, and still only two outs. Worrell was taken deep by heralded rookie Mike Trout, who hit a three-run shot for his first career home run, and veteran outfielder Torii Hunter, who hit a two-run homer.
"That's about where we are down there," Showalter said when asked about his decision to bring in the journeyman Worrell. "We're in a situation, I'm sure you're aware of, with [Jim Johnson] and Koji [Uehara], [of] trying to stay away from [Johnson] as much as possible, if we can. Should have been a pretty good spot for [Worrell], but it didn't work out. We just don't have a lot of options with people who are getting people out on a consistent basis other than, really, Kevin [Gregg] and Koji and J.J."
The poor effort from the bullpen was matched by another subpar performance from the offense, which managed just two runs over seven innings against Angels rookie Tyler Chatwood. Adam Jones was responsible for those runs with a long homer in the sixth inning, his 18th, cutting the Angels' lead to 3-2. Nick Markakis added a solo shot in the ninth.
"It's simple, if we don't win, I'm just looking at it as trying to do my part individually," said Jones, who has five homers and 11 RBIs in his past nine games, and is one homer shy of tying a career high. "If you saw everybody doing their parts, things would be better."
The lack of offense has been a common occurrence with Guthrie on the mound. Guthrie entered the game as the recipient of the seventh-lowest run support in the American League at 3.38 runs per game. In his 27 losses as a starter since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Orioles have scored just 38 runs while he has been in the game, an average of 1.41. But afterward, Guthrie was more critical of himself than anything else.
"My stuff was better than my mound presence, absolutely," he said. "It was because of frustration with myself. The umpire helped me be frustrated at times, but I can't blame anyone else. I'm just frustrated with my own job. The things I can't control don't frustrate me as much."
That, according to him, includes the constant trade rumors that should end in the next week when the Orioles decide either to hold on to their hard-luck pitcher or give him an opportunity to join a pennant race.
"I only hear it because you guys bring it up every 31/2 minutes," Guthrie said. "Most players don't hear the rumors, most players don't know. But I guess it's exciting for everyone else to talk about it, so we hear it through those avenues."
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