Orioles 'pen wild in loss to A's
Relievers surrender five walks with the bases loaded
BALTIMORE -- Manager Dave Trembley had another day to remember and another night to forget on Friday, when the Orioles gave him another year of security and then lost their seventh straight game. Trembley's contract was extended through 2009 with a team option for 2010, and his team responded by walking home five runs in an 11-2 loss to Oakland.
In one respect, it represented an improvement. Last year, Baltimore set a franchise record by allowing 30 runs in a game and got swept in a doubleheader the day Trembley had his contract extended, a dubious twinbill that set off an eight-game skid. This time, the Orioles (63-77) stayed with Oakland through the early going and lost control of the game late.
"I don't have any answers, to be honest with you," Trembley said. "I don't have any magic formula. I don't have any catch phrases. I don't have any quick fix to it. It's just ... you've got to be able to throw the ball over the plate."
Trembley, who has bemoaned his pitching staff's inability to throw strikes in recent days, saw another prime example Friday. The Orioles issued five bases-loaded walks to pad the score, with four of them coming in the eighth inning. Three different pitchers -- Brian Bass, Brian Burres and Kameron Mickolio -- had a hand in Oakland's bizarre game-breaking rally.
Oakland (64-77) snapped a four-game losing streak with the victory, and third baseman Jack Hannahan accounted for two of his team's five bases-loaded walks. Jack Cust started the eighth-inning rally with a walk, and Kurt Suzuki kept it alive by being hit by a pitch. Baltimore went on to walk five more batters, and Rajai Davis hit a grand slam to pad the score.
But before that back-breaking hit, Trembley had done all he could to stem the tide. Bass walked one batter and hit another before Trembley removed him, and Burres walked the only two batters he faced. Then came Mickolio, who walked three batters and struck another out. Finally came Randor Bierd, who sandwiched two flyouts around the grand slam.
According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the last team to walk home five runs in one game was the Chicago Cubs in September of 2000 against the Giants, and Trembley seemed at a loss to explain things.
"I put all the guys in there," said Trembley, "so I must have put all the wrong ones in there."
"I just had a bad game," added Mickolio, who was acquired from Seattle in the trade for Erik Bedard. "First of all, I didn't even give myself or the team a chance to succeed by not throwing any strikes. So right off the bat, it was just ugly."
The A's scored eight runs on one hit in that rally, and the Orioles continued a sordid trend. Baltimore has walked 56 batters in its last seven games, topping the seven-walk mark six times in that span. But few games have been as wild as Friday night, which saw Baltimore issue six walks and a hit batsman in an eight-batter span.
"Well, it was a good game for a while, and it got away from us," said Trembley of the 10-walk extravaganza. "We didn't throw it over the plate. And to be honest with you, I've never seen an inning like that, ever."
Trembley called a meeting with all his pitchers during the recent road trip to emphasize the importance of throwing strikes and to remind them all that they were getting a good opportunity to prove themselves during the season's last month. That hasn't worked, and he was asked Friday if he thought the problem was mostly physical or mental.
"I don't think anybody's afraid. I think they're really having a difficult time repeating their delivery and throwing the ball over the plate," he said. "That's not what I think. That's what I see. I think it's [an] inability to repeat their delivery and execute the pitches, [to] locate. Then you try to come inside and you hit people. Then you try to go away, and you throw it in the other batter's box. I'm not trying to be facetious. Everybody's seeing the same thing I'm seeing. ... I've got to find a way to find the right mix, and we've got to score a bunch of runs and get good pitching. It isn't how hard you throw it. It's locating. Get ahead, strike one. Repeat. Work fast and get your guys in to hit. That's just basic, fundamental baseball. It's not happening."
Baltimore got a decent outing from southpaw Chris Waters, who worked into the sixth inning for the third time in seven big league starts. Waters (2-2) hit a batter and allowed two straight hits in the fifth to send home Oakland's first run, and gave up a sacrifice fly later in the inning. He gave up two hits and two walks in the sixth but left with the bases loaded.
"A couple calls here and there, and the ballgame's different," he said. "I felt like I commanded the ball, for the most part."
"He did all right," said Trembley. "In retrospect, I probably should have [taken] him out when he was on a high note, but he's going that great and I'm thinking, 'He's going to continue.' But he hit a rough spot and couldn't get out of it. That's baseball."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.