During another difficult season in which losses have piled up at a dizzying rate, Orioles starter Jeremy Guthrie has managed to keep his composure, or at least hold off his frustration until he was well outside the camera's view.
But that changed in an 8-1 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays on Sunday in front of an announced 15,790 at Tropicana Field, a game that was all but over after a brutal bottom of the third inning that included three walks, another costly error by third baseman Mark Reynolds and a three-run double by Reid Brignac, who entered the game with just 10 RBIs all season.
After finally getting the last out of the Rays' four-run third, Guthrie jogged off the field, picked up the Gatorade cooler and slammed it to the dugout floor. There was no use waiting for his 17th defeat -- and another Orioles series loss -- to become official to let go of a season's worth of angst.
"Just a lot of frustration," Guthrie said. "I grabbed it, wanted to do a lot more with it. [I] kind of dragged it, set it down. I figured I didn't deserve a drink of Gatorade that inning so I set it down to where I couldn't get one."
Guthrie then offered a brief smile, something that is getting harder and harder for him to do. Now 6-17 on the season, Guthrie is tied for the sixth-most losses in a season in franchise history, and he has four starts remaining. He also lost 17 games in 2009, and he's the first pitcher since Kip Wells (2005 and 2007) to lose that many games twice in his career.
Guthrie also has 48 losses from 2009 to 2011, nine more than any other pitcher in the big leagues during that span. Guthrie's former Cleveland Indians teammate, Fausto Carmona, is next at 39.
He also remains a decent candidate to become the first 20-game loser in the big leagues since Detroit Tigers left-hander Mike Maroth dropped 21 decisions in 2003. The last Oriole to lose 20 games was Don Larsen, who went 3-21 in 1954.
"My main goal coming into the year was hopefully to win double-digit games for us," Guthrie said. "As it stands, I got four more chances to win four games, and that would put me at 10, which is a small accomplishment for the season. That's what I've been shooting for. That's where my focus has been since Day One, to try to win, and I haven't done a good job of that."
In Guthrie's 30 losses as a starter since the beginning of the 2010 season, the Orioles have scored just 46 runs while he was in the game (an average of 1.53).
That trend continued Sunday, when the Orioles (55-83) were dominated again by impressive rookie right-hander Jeremy Hellickson, who threw a 97-pitch complete game, allowing just one run on Adam Jones' fifth-inning homer, and four total hits.
Relying heavily on his changeup, Hellickson (12-10) improved to 3-0 with an 0.72 ERA and two complete games in three starts versus the Orioles at Tropicana Field this season.
"Righties normally throw fastballs and sliders. A righty-righty changeup is a tough pitch to hit," Reynolds said. "He kept us mixed up all day. I think we hit a lot of balls right at their guys and they made all the plays behind him. That's why he had such a low pitch count and was able to finish the game."
And as good as Hellickson was, he also had a two-run lead by the time he took the ball for the third inning and a six-run lead before throwing a pitch in the fourth.
Guthrie's command problems were evident in the first inning, when he missed with a fastball so badly that it hit Rays designated hitter Johnny Damon in the back of the leg.
"That was a pretty good indication," Orioles manager Buck Showalter said. "The walks and the command there were just not something we're used to seeing from him. His command is usually pretty good."
In the second, Guthrie watched light-hitting No. 9 batter Sean Rodriguez drive a 1-2 slider into the left-field seats for a two-run home run. Things only got worse from there.
Guthrie's struggles in the third started with back-to-back one-out walks to Evan Longoria and Matt Joyce, then a two-out free pass to Casey Kotchman to load the bases. He got Brandon Guyer to hit a ground ball, but Reynolds, who has primarily been playing first base for the past couple of weeks but started at third Sunday, booted it, allowing a run to score. Reynolds also made another error in the eighth inning, giving him 26 miscues on the season, tied for sixth most in Orioles history.
"There have been some times where he's played third real well, too," Showalter said. "Today wasn't one of them. He struggled a little bit. There was an in-between hop, and the ball was hit real hard at him."
After Reynold's first error, Brignac drove Guthrie's pitch over the head of Jones in left-center field to clear the bases and giving the Rays (76-63) a 6-0 lead. Brignac got three RBIs on one swing after totaling just two in his previous 41 home games. It was also just his fourth extra-base hit in 213 at-bats this season. Thirteen of the Rays' final 14 runs in the series came with two outs.
"I didn't have a good feel for the strike zone," Guthrie said. "I wasn't aggressive enough in the strike zone. I didn't have good location or command."
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