It took an extra 48 minutes for Thursday’s game to begin but less than 10 minutes after first pitch to see what kind of night it was going to be for the Orioles.
After rain pushed back the start of the series finale against the Yankees, Buck Showalter and the Orioles must have been wishing the tarp had remained on the field as New York plated five runs in the first inning off Brad Bergesen. Five days after pitching a four-hit shutout in Tampa Bay, Bergesen surrendered three extra-base hits, hit a batter, walked two, and uncorked a wild pitch before even escaping the first inning.
The game was over before CC Sabathia even took the Camden Yards mound. In the Yankees’ 13-2 beating, the burly left-hander improved to 10-1 with a 2.73 earned run average in Baltimore.
After Orioles starting pitchers had allowed only eight earned runs over the last 56 innings pitched, Bergesen gave up eight in just 3 1/3 innings to drop to 1-5 on the season. The outing erased all the good karma from his dominating start against the Rays and firmly placed him back on the rotation bubble as Brian Matusz moves closer to his season debut.
Hoping to rebound from a 4-1 heartbreaker in 15 innings on Wednesday, there was plenty of blame to go around as the Orioles couldn’t pitch, hit, field, or run and barely even registered a pulse throughout a rain-soaked affair in which they fell to 0-6 against the Yankees in 2011.
For all the talk in the offseason of competing and refusing to lie down to the Yankees, the results look no different. Despite losing three of the six in extra innings, the Orioles have been outscored 51-18. The Orioles have already lost two games to New York by 11 or more runs after the largest margin of defeat last season was only eight runs when they went 5-13 against the Yankees.
There isn’t much more to say than what I wrote less than four weeks ago when the Orioles were swept in an abbreviated two-game series in Baltimore to fall to 0-4 against the Yankees. Despite the optimism of an improved club entering 2011, the Orioles still have no answers for the guys in pinstripes.
It remains the men against the boys.
Since taking over as manager last August, Showalter is now 3-9 against the Yankees, showing no more magic than Dave Trembley, Sam Perlozzo, Lee Mazzilli, or Mike Hargrove. Showalter always downplays the significance of facing his former club, but you know it has to eat at him to fail against his former employer, especially in the embarrassing fashion in which it happened over the last two games.
Thankfully, the Orioles won’t play the Yankees again until late July. But where they go from here will be the bigger question.
After building a 6-0 lead before a bullpen meltdown led to an 8-7 loss against the Red Sox on Monday night, it was only natural to question how the Orioles would respond from the latest collapse at Fenway Park. Coming home to drop two to the Yankees only makes that sinking feeling grow even stronger.
If recent history is any indication, a tailspin could already be underway, even with the Washington Nationals and Kansas City Royals coming to town for the next six games. To make matters worse, the injuries are mounting with Derrek Lee and Brian Roberts now on the disabled list.
The Orioles won’t lay down, but it’s only natural for that “Here we go again” mentality to seep into the subconscious of the clubhouse after the events of the last three games. After climbing to within one game of the .500 mark with five wins in six games before going to Boston, the Orioles have lost three straight and are now 19-23.
Not terrible, but also not indicative of any dramatic improvement in the big picture of working toward contention, aside from comparing the results to last season’s historically-poor first four months.
The Orioles will have their chance to capitalize against some beatable opponents over the next two weeks to climb to the .500 mark, or even above.
We’ll see how they fare, but this week’s events feel all too familiar to what we’ve come to expect.