O's stumble over paths

The Baltimore Sun

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Base-running gaffes have defined the Orioles' brutal road trip, seemingly every bit as much as close losses and a stagnant offense.

In yesterday's 6-5 loss to the Oakland Athletics, shortstop Luis Hernandez, the potential go-ahead run, was picked off first base by A's pitcher Dallas Braden with two outs in the 10th inning and Brian Roberts awaiting a 3-1 pitch.

"He got me there in that situation," Hernandez said. "I don't know what happened. He made a good move there."

Roberts represented the tying run in the ninth inning Sunday against the Los Angeles Angels, but he was picked off in a similar situation as the Orioles lost by a run. The Orioles now have seen runners get picked off five times this season, good for the major league lead.

"It's unfortunate that it happened at those times," said Orioles manager Dave Trembley, declining to elaborate on specific mistakes.

Knowing the club is short on proven run producers, Trembley and John Shelby, the team's first base and base running coach, have urged players since spring training to take bigger leads and be more aggressive on the base paths. It has hurt them on several occasions on this trip.

Not only did Hernandez get picked off yesterday, but Luke Scott was caught too far off third base and was doubled up on Jay Payton's soft liner to the pitcher in the second inning. The Orioles had runners on first and third and no outs, but didn't score. Nick Markakis was also doubled up at first on a liner to right field in Monday's series opener.

"That's part of it," Trembley said. "You can't think negative. You have to think positive. You take the extra base. You go first to third when they allow you to do it. I don't think you play defensive. You play defensive now, you're looking to make mistakes."

The Orioles have also been caught stealing 13 times, tied for third most in the majors. Roberts said that it's just a matter of being smarter.

"We're being aggressive because we know we have to score runs every way we can, but we've also made mistakes that we shouldn't have," he said. "Being aggressive doesn't mean you give away easy outs. We need all 27 outs, and we need to use them all wisely."

Changes ahead?

Trembley said that the club will make a determination on the status of infielder Freddie Bynum by the weekend, and he also didn't rule out taking an extended look at Triple-A Norfolk shortstop Alex Cintron.

Bynum, who had surgery in March to repair a torn meniscus in his right knee, has played six games on a rehab assignment for Double-A Bowie. He hit a home run in his only at-bat last night and is batting .350 with a home run and three RBIs.

Cintron, who signed a minor league deal with the Orioles on Opening Day, entered last night hitting .273 with two home runs and nine RBIs for the Tides.

"Obviously, there are people we have that we want to take a look at: Cintron is one, Bynum is two," Trembley said. "But right now, we've went on this road trip and Luis Hernandez is the guy that is playing. ... But it's like any other position. We're always looking to improve, we're always looking to upgrade, we're always looking to do what we can to help the team."

A little rest

Trembley held Roberts and center fielder Adam Jones out of the starting lineup yesterday, but both entered the game in the late innings. Roberts went 1-for-2 with a two-run single and Jones was 0-for-1 with a run.

It was only the second game this season that Roberts hasn't started, while Jones has started all but three of the Orioles' 34 games. Jones is 1-for-19 over his previous six games. Roberts is 4-for-23.

"I think it's inconceivable in this day and age that guys are going to play 162 games," Trembley said. "I think the wear and tear that your body takes later in the season benefits from some time off early in the season."

Good first step

Orioles starter Adam Loewen reported no pain after throwing 25 pitches from 60 feet at the club's minor league complex in Sarasota, Fla


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