By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
10:03 PM EDT, July 22, 2011
On a night that was punctuated by sweltering heat and a scorching opposing pitcher, the Orioles lost not only a game but also one of their sluggers for the rest of the season.
Los Angeles Angels right-hander Ervin Santana took a no-hitter into the sixth, Vernon Wells hit a ninth-inning grand slam and the Angels beat the Orioles, 6-1, for their first victory against Baltimore since August 2009.
If Santana’s three-hit, one-run gem wasn’t hard enough to swallow, Orioles manager Buck Showalter announced in his post-game news conference that outfielder Luke Scott was headed back to the disabled list with persistent discomfort in his right shoulder.
Scott was activated from the disabled list Friday afternoon with hopes that he could play through the pain caused by a tear in his right labrum. He made it through three at-bats before Showalter decided he wouldn’t give him a fourth, even though Scott was trying to persevere.
"Luke is a tough guy. A lot of guys would want to have flew the coop, but he wanted to play," Showalter said. "I applaud him for that, the want-to, but it's not fair to the Orioles or to Luke to proceed down this path anymore. But as far as what happens from here, that's Luke's decision. You're going to see him rehab it or have surgery as we go forward, but that's an educated guess by talking to him."
Scott, the club's 2010 Most Valuable Oriole -- who had batted just .220 with nine homers this year -- declined comment until Saturday. But he said before Friday’s game that if he couldn’t help the team, he would shut it down for the rest of 2011.
Adding insult to injury on Friday evening was Santana, who didn’t yield a hit until rookie Blake Davis slashed a double into left field with one out in the sixth. It deprived the announced crowd of 24,823 from potentially witnessing the first no-hitter at Camden Yards since Boston’s Hideo Nomo threw one on April 4, 2001.
"I don't think [being no hit] is in your mind. It’s still the what, sixth inning? You still have a lot of [at-bats] left," Orioles catcher Matt Wieters said. "But he was tough, and we knew he was going to be tough tonight."
Santana, who allowed 10 hits in his last outing against Oakland on Saturday, retired 16 of his first 17 batters -- with only Scott reaching base in the second on an error by Angels second basemanMaicer Izturis.
Davis was stranded in the sixth as Santana retired six more batters before issuing his lone walk to Mark Reynolds in the eighth. Felix Pie followed with a sharp single that diving third baseman Alberto Callaspo could only knock down.
After Davis hit a hard liner to center for the second out, J.J. Hardy snapped the Orioles’ 16-inning scoreless skid with a single up the middle to score Reynolds. That chased Santana, but reliever Hisanori Takahashi got Nick Markakis to hit a weak comebacker for the third out. Takahashi pitched a perfect ninth, striking out two, for his first save.
"We put a run at him there in the eighth inning, and the ninth kind of fell apart on us," Reynolds said. "Yeah, [Santana] was tough all night. [He] was throwing mid-90s with a good slider. That's tough hitting."
Combined with Wednesday’s 4-0 loss to the Red Sox, the Orioles’ offense has managed just five hits and one run in its last 18 innings.
"It's tough, because we've gotten some good starts out of those two games. And when the starters go out there and give you a good outing, you want to get them a win," Wieters said. "Seems like when we are hitting well, we can't quite get them to pitch well. And when we're pitching well, we can't quite score enough runs. But we will hopefully turn it around here soon."
Santana (5-8) picked up his first win since July 3 by allowing three hits, one walk and one run in 7 2/3 innings. It was the first time the Angels (54-46) had beaten the Orioles (39-57) since Aug. 17, 2009 -- a game that Santana also won.
"I'm always maybe too quick to give the other guy credit, and Santana is a good pitcher. He has been for a while," Showalter said. "But I'd still like to see us be a little better."
On a sticky night in which the first-pitch temperature was 104 degrees -- one tick shy of the record at Camden Yards for the last 15 years, a 105 registered on July 6, 1999 -- Santana was nearly matched by Orioles starter Alfredo Simon, who yielded two runs on six hits and a walk in 6 2/3 innings.
"I feel like I just threw really well. I know they scored two runs and I let them in," Simon said. "I just tried to keep the game close, but we [didn't] hit too good tonight. But that's part of the game."
In between quality starts -- Simon allowed two runs in seven innings in a win against Cleveland on Saturday -- he sandwiched in a day on the restricted list and a trip to the Dominican Republic for a legal proceeding surrounding a fatal shooting.
A lead suspect in the death of his cousin during an early morning New Year’s Day celebration in his homeland, Simon spent two months in a Dominican jail but was never charged. He thought he would be cleared Monday, but instead the hearing was postponed until October 18.
Back in uniform by Tuesday and making his scheduled start Friday, Simon (2-3) certainly didn’t look fazed by the distractions.
"He gave us a real good chance to win. I was pleased with his performance again," said Showalter, who allowed Simon to throw a season-high 96 pitches. "Had him maybe a tick above where we had hoped to take him with pitches and everything. We should be in position to turn him loose now. He gave us a real good chance to win. I was proud of him."
Simon ran into trouble in the fourth, when he loaded the bases on two singles and a comebacker that he dropped for an error. The Angels failed to score, though, when rookie Mike Trout popped up and Jeff Mathis grounded out.
The Angels scored twice against Simon in the seventh, when he gave up doubles to Trout and Izturis. Jason Berken entered in relief and surrendered another double to Torii Hunter.
The Angels added four runs in the ninth when Vernon Wells hit a 406-foot grand slam against Orioles closer Kevin Gregg, who returned Friday from a three-day suspension.
In his last outing Saturday, Gregg allowed three runs in 2/3 of an inning. On Friday, Gregg gave up four in one inning, but the runs were unearned due to a Derrek Lee error that started the ninth.
Showalter felt like Gregg had thrown several pitches that should have been called strikes, and that, along with the error, helped set up the rough line.
"I thought he had pretty good stuff and his command was pretty good," Showalter said. "I'm biased. I'm going to look at our side of everything. There was a lot more to that game than that."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun