More bullpen blues
It's becoming a broken record. The Orioles take a lead or a tie into the late innings, only to watch it turn into a sizable deficit because of the bullpen's inability to get outs. Last night, a 6-3 advantage going into the top of the eighth turned into a 14-6 deficit. In the inning, 10 of the first 11 Devil Rays - and nine straight at one point - reached via a single or walk and every Devil Ray scored at least once. The Orioles have given up 53 runs after the sixth inning on this homestand.
When catcher Ramon Hernandez passed home plate after his home run in the seventh inning gave the Orioles a 6-3 lead, he threw his hands into the air as if to say, "Finally." The home run, which came on a 2-1 pitch from Devil Rays reliever Scott Dohmann, was his first since July 16. The 420-foot shot also broke the catcher's 0-for-26 slump. It was just his second RBI since Aug. 7. It was only his second extra-base hit this month and his first since Aug. 3. He was 1-for-42 entering the at-bat.
It took 130 games, but the Orioles finally hit back-to-back home runs. Actually, they did so twice. It happened for the first time in the bottom of the first inning, when Nick Markakis hit a two-run shot and cleanup hitter Miguel Tejada followed with a homer. Tejada and Kevin Millar then went back-to-back in the eighth inning. The Orioles tied a team record for a home game with six home runs, with Hernandez and Aubrey Huff also connecting.
Orioles right-hander Steve Trachsel (6-8, 4.61) will oppose Tampa Bay right-hander James Shields (10-8, 4.09) tonight in the second game of the series. Trachsel, who has allowed three earned runs or fewer in five straight starts, is 0-3 with a 7.17 ERA in four career starts against the Devil Rays. Shields held the Oakland Athletics to two earned runs in 8 1/3 innings in his most recent start. He's 0-1 with a 3.97 ERA in five starts against the Orioles.