10/02/2004 5:32 PM ET
Orioles' rally comes up short
By Gary Washburn / MLB.com
|Miguel Tejada bobbles a ball during the third inning of Game 1 on Saturday. (Chris Gardner/AP)
BALTIMORE -- Daniel Cabrera definitely did not want his season to end this way. Yet, as he tried to finish off his rookie season with a victory on Saturday, his 1 1/3 innings against the Boston Red Sox typified the struggles he endured the past few weeks.
Cabrera showed all the signs of being a burned-out pitcher. He battled command, had little movement on his pitches and appeared to lack confidence and focus. The 6-foot-7 right-hander was shelled in his final appearance of the season, ending a remarkable first season in disappointing fashion, as the Red Sox held on for a 7-5 win in Game 1 of a day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards.
After the Orioles had trailed by a wide margin most of the day, Miguel Tejada made things interesting with a two-run homer in the eighth off Mike Timlin. In the ninth, Javy Lopez led off with a double, and the next batter, B.J. Surhoff, singled him to third.
However, Boston closer Keith Foulke responded by striking out Jay Gibbons, Larry Bigbie and Brian Roberts in order to earn his 32nd save.
Cabrera (12-8) became unglued after a perfect first inning, allowing six earned runs and five hits in the second before being pulled with one out. Cabrera and manager Lee Mazzilli insisted that the rookie had plenty of energy left after an exhausting first season, but the numbers proved otherwise.
After racing to an 8-5 record with a 3.61 ERA after 2 1/2 months in the rotation, Cabrera was just 4-3 with a 7.93 ERA in the final two months. Four of his last 11 starts lasted fewer than three innings, and he walked 43 batters in that span compared with just 30 strikeouts.
"He was just all over the place," Mazzilli said. "He's still got to get back in the game and control himself. He just couldn't get any of his pitches down."
Mazzilli and pitching coach Ray Miller decided to give Cabrera some extra rest and skip his scheduled start against Toronto after Tuesday's rainout. After it was originally planned for Cabrera to make two starts in the final week, the duo decided to limit him to one, hoping he could shine against a Red Sox lineup without Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Kevin Millar or Trot Nixon.
He retired the side in order in the first inning and appeared primed for a solid start. But he began the second with a walk to Jason Varitek. Cabrera then had Varitek picked off, but shortstop Tejada muffed first baseman Rafael Palmeiro's throw and Varitek rumbled back to first base.
That appeared to unnerve Cabrera, who then allowed Varitek to steal second. Ellis Burks followed with an RBI single. Next, Orlando Cabrera delivered a double to put runners at the corners. Cabrera then walked Bill Mueller to load the bases, and the Red Sox started a game of bingo.
Gabe Kapler singled to right field to cash in Burks for a 2-0 lead. Pokey Reese knocked a single to right to score Orlando Cabrera. Daniel Cabrera then uncorked a wild pitch to score Mueller and move runners into scoring position. Johnny Damon, who has battered Orioles pitching this season, laced an opposite-field single to score two more for a 6-0 lead.
After striking out Dave Roberts, Cabrera, appearing frustrated, walked Doug Mientkiewicz, and his day was done.
"I was making good pitches, and those guys were hitting [them]," Cabrera said. "I pitched against one of the best teams in baseball. I tried to get the ground ball, but it was base hit, base hit, base hit."
Despite the rough finish, Cabrera's season was stunning, considering he began the year in Double-A Bowie. The 23-year-old has emerged as a franchise cornerstone, but ran out of gas as he logged a career-high 175 innings combined with Bowie and the Orioles.
"Yeah, he put out a lot of innings," Mazzilli said. "But he did a lot of good things for us. When he came up, what impressed me was his composure on the mound for a young kid. He's come a long way in a very short period of time."
Cabrera said he will head home to San Pedro de Macoris and rest before working on developing his changeup with friend Pedro Martinez.
"I never thought I would be in the Major Leagues in May," Cabrera said. "I thought I would be here in September with the rookie guys. I am happy, and I will go back home and work hard."
The offense, meanwhile, mustered just one hit -- a Melvin Mora double -- off Bronson Arroyo, who pitched only three innings in preparation for his start in the Division Series.
The Orioles started their comeback in the bottom of the fifth when Lopez belted his 22nd homer, a solo shot off Terry Adams. Surhoff then drilled his eighth homer of the season, a two-run shot off Ramiro Mendoza in the seventh inning, to cut the lead to 7-3.
Tejada's home run in the eighth, which pulled the Orioles within two runs, tied Cal Ripken's club record for homers by a shortstop with 34.
Gary Washburn is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.