Orioles get shut out
Maryland native Cecil, three relievers keep offense off scoreboard
A fifth-inning double by the Blue Jays' Alex Rios goes over the head of center fielder Adam Jones, who also popped out to end the Orioles' scoring threat in the seventh. Jones was playing shallow on the double and initially turned the wrong way while trying to pursue it. (Baltimore Sun photo by Lloyd Fox / July 10, 2009)
Orioles manager Dave Trembley, serving the first game of a two-game suspension, had a different perspective, but he witnessed the same, alarming trend unfold against another left-handed starter.
For the sixth time this season and the third in 11 games, the Orioles were shut out, losing, 2-0, on Friday night to the Toronto Blue Jays and Maryland native Brett Cecil.
More concerning, it was the fourth consecutive game in which the Orioles (38-48) failed to solve a left-handed starter. In their past four games after rocking Los Angeles Angels lefty Joe Saunders on Sunday, the Orioles have managed just two runs and 10 hits while striking out 22 times in 24 innings against lefties.
"That's all? Wow," Orioles third baseman Melvin Mora said. "I don't know [why], but it's something we need to figure out."
The Blue Jays (44-44) will start lefties in the final two games of the series, and it's likely the Orioles could see two more to kick off the second half next week in Chicago against the White Sox. Overall, the Orioles are 15-17 against left-handed starters and are batting roughly 15 points lower against them this season.
"I really don't [know why]," Trembley said. "We've certainly seen enough of them."
This time it was 23-year-old Cecil, a native of Dunkirk in Calvert County, who baffled the Orioles. The former University of Maryland standout yielded seven runs in his last start but threw six shutout innings Friday.
Cecil (3-1) allowed just four hits and two walks in front of an announced 30,574 in his Camden Yards debut.
"He threw the ball, and we didn't hit it," Mora said. "It felt like an invisible ball."
Only once did the Orioles mount a rally against the rookie. They loaded the bases with two outs in the second, but shortstop Cesar Izturis, in his first big league at-bat since June 3, grounded out to shortstop to end the threat.
"It was a chance for us," said Izturis, who had been recovering from an emergency appendectomy. "I got a 2-2 count, he threw me a good changeup."
The Orioles had one more scoring opportunity in the seventh, when Adam Jones popped out with runners on first and third and two outs. Four Jays relievers, including closer Scott Downs (ninth save) combined to pitch three scoreless innings to end Toronto's three-game losing streak.
"Our scoring chances were limited," Trembley said.
"We needed to put some good at-bats back-to-back and didn't."
The shutout erased a solid effort by Jason Berken (1-6), who pitched four scoreless innings before running into trouble in the fifth.
Lyle Overbay started the inning with a liner that just sailed past the glove of diving second baseman Brian Roberts.
Alex Rios followed with a double to deep center that soared over Jones' head.
Both runs were driven in by former Orioles. Outfielder David Dellucci grounded to second to score Overbay, and catcher Raul Chavez's double knocked in Rios.
Berken (1-6) didn't give up any more runs, lasting 5 2/3 innings, his third-longest stint in nine big league attempts. He has dropped six straight decisions since winning his debut May 26, but his spirits were buoyed heading into the All-Star break.
"This is a good start to build off of," he said.
"We'll have a couple days of rest here, and I'm looking forward to the second half after the way I threw tonight."
Trembley, who was suspended Friday for two games after an on-field tirade Tuesday, is looking forward to being back on the bench.
Watching the game without being part of it was agonizing.
"I'd rather go to the dentist," Trembley said. "That's tough. We got one done. Now I've got one more to go."