Orioles come out flat, lose to Texas Rangers, 14-3
Matusz struggles a night after team's emotional, 17-inning victory in Boston
Orioles first baseman Chris Davis walks back to the dugout after his third-inning strikeout. (Gene Sweeney Jr., Baltimore Sun / May 7, 2012)
Call it the Great Boston Marathon Hangover.
The Orioles came out manhole-cover-flat Monday, and were run over by the Texas Rangers, 14-3, in a game which they gave up 19 hits, got only six and suffered their most lopsided defeat of the young season.
The sleepwalking wasn't surprising considering it came a day after beating the Boston Red Sox, 9-6, in a six-hour, seven-minute saga that completed an impressive sweep at Fenway Park.
“I know that's a real easy area to go down, but … that's not something our guys or I'm going to dwell on,” said Orioles manager Buck Showalter. “It's part of what we do for a living. You get thrown some self-inflicted things that you have to deal with and nobody's going to feel sorry for you. Hopefully, get a good night's rest and turn the page.”
The best thing that can be said about Monday's loss, which snapped a season-best, five-game winning streak, is that it lasted just two hours and 35 minutes.
The Orioles (19-10) are now in a first-place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East and are tied with the Rangers and Rays for best record in the AL.
“No one here is going to make excuses, they've got a good lineup it's no secret,” said shortstop J.J. Hardy, who had three of the Orioles' six hits. “Were we tired? Possibly. Possibly. I mean, we played six hours and seven minutes yesterday than a flight back. I'm not saying that's what happened is, we were tired, but maybe.”
Lefty Brian Matusz, who appeared to take a major step forward Tuesday in a win against the New York Yankees, delivered his worst performance of the season Monday night before an announced crowd of 11,938 at Camden Yards.
Matusz (1-4) was shelled for seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in five-plus innings, catapulting his season ERA from 4.67 to 5.91 — still an improvement over his 10.69 ERA in 2011.
“Any rough outing is disappointing, especially with the momentum we had as a team, coming off a good roadstand,” Matusz said. “And I just didn't keep the team in the ballgame today. Made some bad pitches and you've got to move forward.”
The Rangers' offensive hero was former Orioles' first-round pick Brandon Snyder, whom the club sent to Texas this offseason for cash considerations. Snyder's two-run single in the second gave the Rangers their first lead. Snyder — the Orioles' top pick in 2005, three years before Matusz was the Orioles' No. 1 selection — chased the lefty with a three-run homer in the sixth before Matusz could record an out in the inning.
“I absolutely wanted to go deep in the game, that's the plan for every start to go deep, especially with the 17-inning game we had yesterday, the depleted bullpen,” Matusz said. “Sure, it would have been nice to go seven or eight, but I didn't get the job done today.”
Snyder singled in the ninth against Jason Berken to drive in his sixth run of the game. He had had five RBIs in his career heading into Monday. No opposing player had driven in that many runs in one game against the Orioles since New York Yankees' Alex Rodriguez had six on April 23, 2011.
“I'm probably going to have to wake up tomorrow and read something to make sure it happened,” said Snyder, a Virginia native. “It's a special night, being back in Baltimore, but the biggest thing is having my family there. They haven't seen me since spring training. It's been awesome.”
Berken, in his first outing of the year for the Orioles, allowed seven runs (two earned) in one inning. That included serving up Josh Hamilton's 10th homer of the season.
Berken relieved Stu Pomeranz, who made his major-league debut with three scoreless innings. Pomeranz allowed three hits and one walk while striking out two and hitting 95-mph on the stadium radar gun. The crowd chanted “Stuuuu” when he recorded his last out of his final inning.
“I didn't want to take in the moment,” Pomeranz said of his debut. “I didn't want to realize what I was doing until after it was done. Obviously, it's a big deal. It's my first outing in the big leagues.”
Pomeranz and Berken were both called up Monday to provide relief for a beleaguered bullpen that threw 12 2/3 innings Sunday.
“I liked the way he handled himself,” Showalter said of Pomeranz. “He had a lot of mound presence and attacked the strike zone. He hides it well, but you know there had to be a lot of emotion flowing around out there. I was real proud of him. That was probably the highlight for us.”
The Orioles' offense didn't fare much better than the pitchers Monday, with only Hardy registering a hit against Matt Harrison until the sixth when Robert Andino homered, his third of the season and second in two games.
Wilson Betemit hit a two-run homer against Harrison in the seventh, his fourth of the season. Harrison (4-2) left after that inning, allowing six hits and three walks while striking out two. Hardy had three of the six hits against Harrison, including two doubles, but never scored.
The Orioles defense also seemed asleep at times. Third baseman Mark Reynolds was charged with a throwing error in the ninth and also couldn't cleanly field two others that were ruled singles. He now has six errors this season.
There were few remnants from Sunday's emotional victory on the field Monday, but the fans that came to Camden Yards didn't let the Orioles forget what they had accomplished.
In his first plate appearance in the third inning, first baseman Chris Davis, who threw two scoreless innings to get the win Sunday in his only pro pitching appearance, received a standing ovation.
Davis promptly struck out in the at-bat — a fitting representation of this night.
Ultimately, the Orioles will dismiss Monday's beating as a bad performance against a great team — the two-time defending league champion. Showalter is hoping this was also just one rough outing for Matusz, who had two consecutive quality starts after not getting good results in his first three.
“I think it is [disappointing] for him. I'm frustrated for him. I'm sure he's frustrated by it,” Showalter said. “[Matusz] just wasn't the guy we had seen the last three or four starts. I'm sure Texas had something to do with that, too.”