The Orioles' final game against their tormentors in 2009 played out like so many before it. The Red Sox pounded an Orioles starting pitcher, secured a seven-run lead and were never threatened in a 9-3 victory Sunday at half-empty Camden Yards, where the only disappointment for the legions of Boston fans at the stadium came when the final score of the New York Jets-New England Patriots game appeared on the scoreboard.
Completing a mind-boggling display of dominance over the Orioles, the Red Sox won 16 of 18 games in the season series, including the final eight. It was the Orioles' fewest wins in a season series against the Red Sox since they went 1-12 in 1987.
The futility also predates the 2009 season, with the Orioles (60-89) losing 11 straight series to Boston, and 23 of their last 26 games.
"It seemed like the first game of every series that we played these guys, we have an opportunity to win the ballgame and we just didn't get it done," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, whose team fell to a season-worst 29 games under .500 and will have to go 3-10 to avoid the third 100-loss season in team history.
"We didn't pitch well enough, we didn't make enough plays, we didn't get the hit at the right time, and they did. And in the second game of the series or the third game, especially the middle game of every series we played them, we were in it until late and then it got away. This one, I really felt the way [Jason] Berken had pitched the last couple times, he was going to pitch a good one, and he just didn't."
Berken, who had surrendered three runs or fewer in four of his previous five starts, was drubbed for six earned runs in three innings, surrendering more hits (10) than he got outs. He faced 21 batters and 12 of them reached base, as the Red Sox scored three runs in the first, one in the second, two more in the third, and one in the fourth on Jason Bay's homer off Chris Waters.
In four starts against Boston this year, Berken went 0-3 with an 11.66 ERA and gave up 33 hits and 10 walks in 14 2/3 innings.
"It was a really bad start," Berken said.
"The way I threw today is obviously unacceptable, to be falling behind consistently and living on the double play. It just really wasn't there. It's one of those days where I just threw the ball awful."
Berken has plenty of company in his struggles against the Red Sox this season. In the 18 games, Boston outscored the Orioles 130-68. The Red Sox out-hit the Orioles 222 to 160 and out-homered them 29 to 15. They also drew 75 walks, while the Orioles worked Red Sox pitching for 56 free passes.
"They pitched well. They hit well," Orioles outfielder Luke Scott said. "They're a good team. It's just really simple. They out-pitched us. They out-hit us."
Scott put the Orioles on the board with a two-run homer off Red Sox starter Daisuke Matsuzaka in the fourth inning, but all that did was cut the home team's deficit to five runs, along with giving Scott his career-high 24th home run of the season.
"If you're going to compete with a team of that caliber, you've got to pitch up to their level and ... hit up to their level," Scott said. "Considering the pitching that we've faced against them, we've held our own. We've gotten our hits and we've scored runs, but you've got to match them on the mound. That's the first place you've got to start.
"It's hard, but we are where we are and we know where we need to get to. If you want to compete in this league, in this division, you have to have the pitching. You can have a great offense, as we did last year. But still, it's just not going to work. It's got to start with pitching."
Trembley and rookie catcher Matt Wieters - who provided one of the few positives in the series and on the team's 2-5 homestand with a second straight three-hit game - denied that the Red Sox are in the Orioles' heads and said that the team takes no relief from not having to play Boston again this season.
"We haven't made good enough pitches to them, and we haven't scored enough runs when we get the hits," Wieters said. "It's not so much confidence. You just have to go out there and keep playing."