Tejada's taters not enough vs. Twins
Shortstop goes deep twice in home finale of 2006
BALTIMORE -- When you're the Orioles, even the modest goals are elusive. The O's fell short of finishing with a winning record at home on Sunday, when the Twins led from the first inning through the last. Minnesota braved a 29-minute rain delay to earn a 6-3 victory, a result that dropped Baltimore's record at Camden Yards to 40-41.
The Orioles finished with the lowest 81-date attendance figure (2,153,139) since Camden Yards opened in 1992. That includes the strike-shortened season in 1994, when Baltimore drew 2,535,359 fans in 54 home dates.
"Next year, hopefully, we'll be playing for something at this point in time. We'll be hoping for late October," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "Winning games puts people in the stands. It's no secret to any place that you go. I thought we did some good things this year that should help us next year. It really should.
"I think we can add some people over the winter and make us a better ballclub, for sure."
The Twins (92-63) hit a pair of two-run homers in the win, which brought them one step closer to clinching a playoff spot. Minnesota catcher Joe Mauer gave the road team its first lead with a blast to left field in the first inning. Seven innings later, first baseman Phil Nevin put the game away with a two-run drive off veteran reliever Russ Ortiz.
"They've got great arms and they play fundamentally sound baseball as well as anyone in the league," said Kevin Millar, Baltimore's first baseman. "They run the bases well, they play great defense, they've got a good bullpen and solid starting pitching. They're going to be fine."
Baltimore starter Adam Loewen was shaky in the early innings and righted himself before his day ended. The rookie southpaw gave up Mauer's two-run shot in the first inning and escaped a jam in the second. Minnesota scored another two runs in the third, courtesy of three singles, an error and a sacrifice fly. Loewen (6-6) worked six innings.
"I've learned something every outing, and I've probably had something to build on every outing," he said. "Sometimes [it's] the toughest outings you learn the most from, and you learn to deal with adversity."
"Early on, I didn't think [Loewen] had his good stuff, but he came on strong after that," said Perlozzo. "He's going to be OK. He threw fairly well [and] kept us in the ballgame. We just couldn't hold them."
Baltimore's Miguel Tejada was named the Most Valuable Oriole before the game and spent the rest of the day proving it. Tejada had gone 120 at-bats without a home run -- the longest skid of his career -- before blasting a solo shot in the fourth inning. He homered again in the sixth for his first multi-homer game of the year and the 11th of his career.
Tejada has 208 hits, a career high, and is three away from tying the team's single-season record. The shortstop has been named Most Valuable Oriole twice in his three-year Baltimore tenure and is one of eight repeat winners.
"I always say I'm not a home run hitter," said Tejada, a four-time All-Star. "What's most important for me is being on the field every day and trying to get a hit for my team. When the home runs come, they come."
"Miggy doesn't surprise me with anything he does," added Perlozzo. "I thought he was swinging the bat so well he was going to hit another one. He plugs away all year long.
"He doesn't shut it down and hasn't yet. That's why he's an MVP."
Tejada came up in another key spot and wasn't able to come through. The shortstop came to bat in the seventh inning with the Orioles (68-88) trailing by one run. Two men were on base, but Tejada worked the count full and struck out. Third baseman Chris Gomez, the lead runner, was thrown out at third base on the front end of a double steal.
Baltimore got a hit in the eighth inning and pushed a runner to second base, but consecutive fly balls stranded him there. Minnesota closer Joe Nathan worked a perfect ninth inning for his 35th save of the season. The Orioles dropped two of three against the Twins and have six games remaining -- three in New York and three in Boston.
"We knew we had to take two out of three in this series to have a winning record at home," said Millar, who went 0-for-3 in the home finale. "It would've been nice to get this W, but we played our hearts out here. We were a little short at times, but it wasn't a lack of effort."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.