Wright struggles with command in loss
Right-hander allows six runs, five walks in Orioles debut
MINNEAPOLIS -- Throw that one away. Baltimore starter Jaret Wright struggled to find his command and work deep into games throughout the Spring Training schedule and followed suit in his season debut. Wright couldn't get out of the third inning Wednesday night, and the Orioles never recovered in a 7-2 loss to Minnesota.
That result sealed a series sweep for the Twins (3-0) and marked the first time the Orioles (0-3) have lost their first three games since 1995. They haven't lost more than three straight since going 0-21 to start the season in 1988. Now, Baltimore is charged with trying to get its season back on track in Yankee Stadium this weekend.
"We're not happy about these three days," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "We thought we could do something a little better than this series, and we didn't. Now we have to go to New York and it's not going to get any easier. We can sit around and make excuses, but we've got to go out and play winning baseball."
Wright was wild from the first inning on Wednesday, and he walked five batters in his brief outing. Four of those baserunners came around to score, but part of that blame fell on his defense. The game got away for good in the third inning, and Wright walked three batters -- all of whom eventually came around to score -- in the rally.
Perhaps the key play of the inning came on a two-run single by Rondell White, who moved to second on a throwing error by Corey Patterson. That was it for Wright, but not for the Twins. Reliever Jeremy Guthrie got one out and walked one batter to load the bases, and left fielder Jay Gibbons was charged with an error on a catchable foul ball.
A moment or two later, Luis Castillo singled off shortstop Miguel Tejada's glove to chase home two more runs. Wright (0-1) wound up charged with six runs, but only four of them were earned.
"There's no excuse for that. We're better than that," Perlozzo said. "It doesn't matter how many points the other team puts up. The game of baseball is to catch the ball when it's hit to you. We just didn't do it enough."
"I thought it was terrible," Wright said of his outing. "I thought the stuff was OK, but I didn't know where it was going. I got myself in trouble and couldn't get out of it."
"We're going to give him some time," added Perlozzo. "I've always believed that a veteran guy, when he gets out there and a little adrenaline going, will come back. He was in and out of pitching good. He pitched sporadically at times. When he had good stuff, he made good pitches. He didn't maintain it. That's all."
The veteran's struggles play into a larger trend, and he acknowledged as much after the game. If you include his six exhibition starts, Wright has walked 22 batters in 20 2/3 innings of work. He said that his mechanics are fine and that his arm feels healthy, but Wright answered all of his postgame questions in an agitated monotone.
"After spring, you look for things to turn around and it was just kind of the same thing. So it's frustrating, but you have to move on," he said. "It's [about] getting something other than a fastball over. When you're behind, you pretty much just have the fastball. Then you start picking and getting into hitter's counts and then walking guys."
Meanwhile, Minnesota starter Ramon Ortiz was mowing down the O's. Ortiz (1-0) spun five shutout innings before Baltimore got on the scoreboard, and he was armed with a seven-run lead by that point. Second baseman Brian Roberts tripled and scored in the sixth, and third baseman Melvin Mora doubled and scored a run of his own.
"I know I felt pretty comfortable off of him and all of the other guys were hitting the ball pretty well," Gibbons said of Ortiz. "They just didn't fall today. We had a couple of times where we could have rallied, but we hit a couple of line drives and inning over."
"We're not swinging the bat the way we're capable of swinging the bat," said Perlozzo. "There are some guys that should be hitting a little bit that got off to a slow start. Right now, there's just too many of them."
All in all, it was a tough way to open the season -- but it was only three games, a fact the Orioles are trying to keep in mind. Nobody in the clubhouse was pleased with the way the team played, but nobody was making too much of it.
"We just didn't do enough things the whole series to win any games," Perlozzo said. "We didn't play good enough defense and our offense was sputtering. We had one [well-pitched] ballgame and didn't make a couple of plays."
"Nobody wants to start that way, but it is not the end of the world. But if we go to New York and win three, these three are forgotten," added Roberts. "We played fine. We made some mistakes, but we also had our chances to win the first two, I thought. This one got a little far away from us."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.