The momentum the home team built in beating the New York Yankees in the first two games of the series started to slowly seep away in the third inning Thursday when A.J. Burnett struck out Aubrey Huff on a wicked curveball with the count full, the bases loaded and the Orioles leading by a run.
The next half-inning, Mark Teixeira finally answered the Camden Yards jeers with his first Yankees home run. Two innings later, Brian Bass' throwing error allowed two more runs to score and all but ended the Orioles' hopes of scoring their first three-game sweep of the Yankees since April 2005.
The Orioles were pounded, 11-2, on a sun-splashed afternoon, their quest to get off to their first 3-0 start in 12 years derailed by a couple of early missed opportunities and the bullpen's inability to hold down New York's lineup.
"It would have been nice to get one but it didn't happen," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "We kept it close, and then they got a little bit of everything - infield hits, hit the ball out of the ballpark. Their bullpen was good; they made the plays."
When starter Alfredo Simon left the game with no outs and a man on in the sixth inning, the Orioles trailed by only a run. However, in a span of five batters, they lost their grip on the game. After striking out Xavier Nady, Bass allowed a single to Robinson Cano, an RBI single to Nick Swisher and a walk to Cody Ransom to load the bases.
Bass then induced a soft comebacker from Brett Gardner, but his throw sailed high and wide, hitting off the glove of catcher Chad Moeller and rolling to the backstop as two runs scored. When Jose Molina followed with a bloop single, the Orioles trailed 7-2.
"It's one of those balls you get caught between [throwing] underhanded or overhanded," said Bass, who allowed five runs in two innings in relief of Simon, who surrendered four earned runs in five innings in his second major league start. "It wasn't a terrible throw, but I threw it too hard."
After going 3-for-19 with runners in scoring position in the first two games of the series, the Yankees went 5-for-13 Thursday and finished with 13 hits. Swisher continued to torment the Orioles, going 3-for-5 with a homer and five RBIs. Cano went 3-for-4 with a homer, two RBIs and four runs. Teixeira, who is from Severna Park and was booed all series for his decision to sign with the Yankees and not his hometown team, went 2-for-5 and finished the series 3-for-14.
However, it was Burnett, the right-hander who signed a five-year, $82.5 million deal with the Yankees in December after receiving only tepid interest from the Orioles, who played the starring role at a time when New York badly needed a strong start.
Their previous two starters - CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang - allowed a total of 13 runs, 17 hits and eight walks over eight innings. Burnett, a Monkton resident who is 8-1 in 10 career starts against the Orioles, surrendered two earned runs on Luke Scott's solo homer and Brian Roberts' RBI single over 5 1/3 innings.
His biggest moment was the strikeout of Huff on a 3-2 curveball with the bases loaded and the Yankees trailing by a run.
"I would have bet my paycheck on 3-2 that he was throwing a fastball," Huff said.
"He just happened to throw one of the nastiest curveballs you can possibly throw on 3-2. You have to tip your hat to him to have the [guts] to throw that pitch."
RAYS (2-1) @O'S (2-1)
Friday, 7:05 p.m.
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