By Dan Connolly, The Baltimore Sun
12:17 AM EDT, July 7, 2011
If the Orioles are looking for a bright side to their three-game pummeling by the Texas Rangers, it's this: They don't have to come back here this season.
That likely won't make a long flight to Boston -- and four more games in never-friendly Fenway Park before the merciful All-Star break finally comes -- any easier.
On Wednesday night, the Rangers embarrassed the Orioles and veteran Jeremy Guthrie, 13-5, to sweep a three-game series in which Texas outscored the Orioles 30-11 and outplayed them in practically every phase of the game.
"I think we made a lot more bad pitches. Obviously, [their offense] is at a high level. But it is more about us, not them," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "It's about us not executing things that I wasn't happy about. And we are going to have to do better. We need to pitch better, we need to play better, period."
The Orioles (36-48) have lost eight of nine and 17 of their last 23 games, perhaps playing the worst baseball of the brief Showalter era.
"Believe me, it is something that I, and we, are aware of," the manager said.
This one was over before half of the 31,953 fans at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington had found their seats. By the end of the first, the Orioles were already down 4-0.
Guthrie gave up a double to Ian Kinsler on his second pitch, then walked Elvis Andrus on four pitches and issued another free pass to Josh Hamilton to load the bases.
Adrian Beltre hit a sacrifice fly to put the Rangers on the board, and Michael Young followed with a double to give them a 2-0 lead. Nelson Cruz hit a two-run single, and Texas had scored four runs before the Orioles could record two outs.
"I just struggled for a feel in that first inning, and it seemed like when I threw it over the plate, they put a pretty good swing on it," Guthrie said. "Those two walks were really a tough way to start it off."
Guthrie suffered through a 38-pitch inning that could have been worse had he not gotten a strikeout-throw-him-out double play with the help of catcher Matt Wieters, who gunned down Cruz at second base. It was Wieters' 24th runner caught stealing of the season, which leads all major league catchers.
Guthrie didn't allow a run again until the fifth, when Beltre doubled one in and Young followed with an RBI single. The right-hander was pulled after the inning, having allowed six runs on eight hits and three walks. It was the fourth time in 19 starts this season that he has allowed at least five earned runs.
"He gave up the four and looked like he was going to come back in and give us six innings, but couldn't get over the hump," Showalter said about Guthrie. "Not much margin for error, even if we could hold them at four. We gave up something like  runs this series; that's not going to work."
Guthrie (3-11) leads the American League in losses. His ERA jumped to 4.23, and he is 1-3 with a 6.75 ERA in his past four starts. In that span, he has allowed 31 hits, 13 walks and 18 earned runs in 24 innings.
"I would have loved to have pitched better. I did not have a good outing, start to finish, really struggled and had to work harder than I should have had to work, so I am disappointed," Guthrie said. "We'll try and lick our wounds and forget about this series and have a better one up in Boston."
In their past 12 games, Orioles starters are a combined 2-8 with an 8.18 ERA. After getting a quality start Tuesday from Mitch Atkins, who was making his Orioles debut, the club was seeking consecutive quality starts for the first time since June 8-11.
That bid ended quickly with Guthrie's rough first. It didn't get much better when he came out.
Michael Gonzalez entered in the sixth and surrendered two more runs on three hits in one inning. Brad Bergesen allowed a run in the seventh on an RBI Single by Young, then served up a three-run blast to Mike Napoli.
Young was a one-man wrecking crew, with three hits and three RBIs on Wednesday, his third consecutive three-hit game. For the series, he was 9-for-12 with three runs, four RBIs, two doubles and a triple.
The Rangers provided plenty of offense for 27-year-old right-hander Alexi Ogando (9-3), who rarely was in trouble. Throwing mid-90s fastballs in the 100-degree heat, Ogando lasted seven innings, giving up three runs on four hits. All the runs he allowed were on homers -- Derrek Lee's two-run shot in the second, his seventh of the season, and Vladimir Guerrero's solo homer in seventh.
Lee's blast went 420 feet to deep center, ending his personal 0-for-13 streak and also breaking the Orioles' 0-for-11 skid with runners in scoring position versus the Rangers. The Orioles were 3-for-8 in those situations Wednesday and 3-for-18 (.167) in the series.
"It's certainly frustrating. We had a two-run homer from Derrek tonight, good swing on a ball. We hope that gets him going a little bit. There's no secret we need to do a lot better job," Showalter said. "The ones that really get you is a runner on third, less than two outs. That's the one that's really been a kick for us. Those should be pretty basic pickups if we can just execute there."
Guerrero's seventh homer of the season was his first since June 12 and first on the road this year. He received a nice ovation from Rangers fans, who still remember his contributions to last year's AL championship team.
It was the Orioles' seventh homer in three games here -- and fifth solo shot -- with their first nine runs coming courtesy of the long ball. That trend ended in the eighth, when Nick Markakis and Guerrero had RBI singles against Texas reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.
The Rangers (47-41) tacked on another run against Kevin Gregg in the eighth on their way to their first sweep since June 2-5 at Cleveland.
Afterward, as he was about to board the plane to Boston, Showalter pinned the outcome of the sweep on his team for failing two show up in two of the three games.
"We got what we deserved. We didn't do a lot of things well this series," Showalter said. "It's only a real problem if it continues to happen. We got to correct it, and pretty quick."
Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun