Short start, long night for O's

The Baltimore Sun

Steve Trachsel was preparing to throw his 33rd pitch in a disastrous top of the third inning last night when Orioles manager Dave Trembley burst out of the dugout and extended his right hand.

Seeing Trembley out of the corner of his eye, Trachsel stepped off the mound and took a couple of steps toward second base. He then returned to the rubber, dropped the ball into Trembley's palm and took a slow walk to the Orioles' dugout.

Trembley said before the game that the team is going to need more from its starting staff. A couple of hours later, Trachsel, who had the best ERA in the rotation two turns through, was removed after just 2 1/3 innings, the shortest outing for an Orioles starter this season. He allowed five runs, including a three-run homer to Aaron Hill, in the Orioles' 11-3 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before an announced 15,017 at Camden Yards.

"I would say that pitching sets the tone on both sides and obviously [Shaun] Marcum was on the top of his game and Trax wasn't," Trembley said. "Most of his pitches were up and over the plate. [He] pitched behind - just wasn't his night. I think it's that simple."

Their second loss in eight games this year at Camden Yards, coupled by the Boston Red Sox's victory, knocks the Orioles (8-6) out of first place in the American League East.

The night wasn't a total loss. Nick Markakis hit a solo homer in the third and is 5-for-13 lifetime against Marcum with four home runs.

Center fielder Adam Jones, who wore No. 42 for last night's game in celebration of Jackie Robinson Day, also took Marcum (2-0) deep for a solo homer to in the fifth. The 355-foot shot to left field was the fourth homer of his young career and his first as an Oriole.

"It felt fine, but we lost," said Jones, who reached base in seven straight plate appearances in the series before flying out to the warning track in center field in the ninth inning. "I knew it was out, but the big thing is we lost. The individual stats don't mean nothing. This is a team game."

Trachsel (1-2) entered the game with an ERA of 3.00 ERA and was undefeated against the Blue Jays in seven career starts. He exited it with an ERA of 5.65.

"I had no fastball command. I was pitching from behind in the count from the very beginning," Trachsel said. "I can't do that. [When] guys are up there and they're able to zero in on the middle of the plate ahead of the count, you're going to get beat."

The veteran right-hander allowed five hits, walked three and hit the first batter he faced, setting an ominous tone. The Blue Jays scored a run in the first and then four more times in the third before Greg Aquino was summoned from the bullpen. Hill landed the biggest blow, slamming Trachsel's 1-0 curveball over the left-field wall to extend Toronto's lead to 4-0.

Ten Blue Jays came to the plate in the marathon third inning. Four got hits, four walked and another hit a sacrifice fly.

"Really, it's a bad, bad start," Trachsel said.

It also put further strain on the Orioles' bullpen. Aquino took the brunt of it, working three innings. He threw 65 pitches and gave up four earned runs. Rule 5 pick Randor Bierd was also needed for 2 2/3 innings, and Dennis Sarfate pitched one.

Oriole starters entered the game having thrown the fourth fewest innings in the AL. Their collective 5.40 ERA is the second worst in the AL. It's become enough of a concern that the club has decided at least for now to keep 13 pitchers.

"Obviously you can't afford to have these kinds of games often because it takes its toll on your bullpen," Trembley said.

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