Albers good, but not good enough
Righty's few mistakes costly; bullpen later lets game get away
BALTIMORE -- Matt Albers didn't have much trouble with the top part of the Tampa Bay lineup. The top four Rays hitters went a combined 0-for-12 against him during his six-inning stint in Wednesday's game.
But Albers didn't fare as well against the middle of the Tampa Bay lineup, specifically Evan Longoria and Eric Hinske. They caused trouble for Albers in the second and fourth innings, helping the Rays take an early lead. Tampa Bay pulled away later for an 8-1 victory over the Orioles before 11,944 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
Albers gave up just three runs on four hits in six innings in his second Orioles start. He struck out two and walked one. But his troubles in the second and fourth innings left the Orioles trailing, 3-1, when the right-hander left.
"Albers did a nice job as a spot starter," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "[There's] one pitch he probably wants back, to Hinske."
Hinske's two-run homer to right in the fourth broke a 1-1 tie and gave the Rays the lead for good. Longoria scored after reaching on a one-out infield single right before the homer.
Longoria and Hinske -- who batted fifth and sixth, respectively -- had already caused problems in the second. Albers hit Longoria with a 3-2 pitch with one out, and then walked Hinske. Dioner Navarro reached on an infield single back through the box that Albers just missed, loading the bases.
Gabe Gross then followed with a sacrifice fly to right, scoring Longoria for a 1-0 lead. But Albers retired the side in order in the first, third, fifth and sixth innings to keep the Orioles close.
"I made a couple of bad pitches, the home run to Hinske, a little bit of a rough second inning, but other than that, I thought it went all right," Albers said. "They have a tough lineup top-to-bottom. A couple of guys got on, and Hinske, in the six hole, got to me a little bit. You just kind of have to learn from it and move on."
Albers threw five strong innings to defeat Toronto in his first start earlier this month. He's done a good job out of the bullpen so far, working mostly as the team's long man. But the rest of the bullpen couldn't come through in this game, giving up five runs in three innings.
Most of the problems happened in the top of the seventh when the Rays scored five runs, thanks in large part to the four walks that Bob McCrory and Dennis Sarfate handed out.
McCrory was making his Major League debut and got into trouble right away, as Gross reached on an infield single. Jason Bartlett's sacrifice moved Gross to second before Akinori Iwamura and Carl Crawford both walked, loading the bases.
B.J Upton lined an RBI single to left, ending McCrory's night. Carlos Pena greeted Sarfate with a two-run single, and Navarro added another two-run single later in the inning.
McCrory gave up four runs on two hits in just one-third of an inning. Trembley thought the rookie might have been fighting some nerves, but McCrory didn't want to make any excuses.
"It wasn't nerves -- I just didn't get the job done," McCrory said. "I had a little adrenaline rush ... maybe I got things going too fast a little bit, [and I] should have stepped off and slowed it down some. I'm ready to go next time they call my name."
Sarfate also was frustrated because he couldn't pick up McCrory when coming on with the bases loaded in the seventh. The right-hander gave up a run on three hits and walked three in his 1 2/3 innings of work.
The most interesting part came in the eighth when Sarfate and Pena started yelling at each other when the Tampa Bay first baseman was in the box. Everything calmed down quickly, and Sarfate didn't want to talk much about the situation, instead saying he should have done better overall.
"I'm not going to comment on what happened [with Pena]," Sarfate said. "It's just control, making bad pitches, falling behind. Three walks ... I can't do that. I let my team down. It goes from being 3-1 to 8-1."
The Orioles bullpen struggled with control, walking six in three innings and giving the Rays several scoring chances.
Baltimore didn't find many offensive opportunities as Tampa Bay starter Andy Sonnanstine gave up just one run on six hits in eight innings. He struck out five and retired 12 in a row after the Orioles got five hits in the first 2 1/3 innings.
Brian Roberts drove in the only run with an RBI single in the third, briefly tying the game at 1. But the Orioles didn't get another hit until the ninth.
The scariest moment came in the third when shortstop Luis Hernandez appeared to turn his left ankle sliding into third. Hobbling around in pain for several minutes, he stayed in the game, and Trembley said that the team will have a better idea of his situation before Thursday's afternoon game with the Rays.
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.