Guthrie, Orioles unable to get on track
Baltimore ace takes some positives out of loss to Chicago
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles cycled back to their staff ace on Wednesday, going from the relatively unpredictable nature of a rookie to the security provided by their best arm. Or so they thought. Jeremy Guthrie got hit around for the second straight start, sinking his team to an early deficit and an 8-2 loss to the White Sox.
"I didn't have my best game. But it's a fun game," said Guthrie. "I think if it were easy and you won every time, it would be less gratifying, just as it is with anything. I have plenty to work on, [and] everybody in this clubhouse has something to work on. ... It's April, and we have five more months to try and get better as players."
Guthrie was unable to get much going against the White Sox (8-6) as he ran up a high pitch count in the first few innings. Chicago first scored in the first inning and came back for two more runs in the second. Cleanup hitter Jim Thome launched a solo home run in the third, putting the Orioles behind by four runs.
From there, Guthrie (2-1) set about picking up the pieces. The right-hander threw three straight scoreless innings, but then he gave up a leadoff single in the seventh. O's reliever Dennis Sarfate came in to take the ball, and he promptly allowed a two-run home run to Josh Fields. Chris Getz, who scored on the play, had three runs on the night.
"Not my best stuff. I wanted to execute some pitches and didn't," said Guthrie. "I think some of the pitches were off, and it's easier to take a pitch that is six [or] seven inches off than a borderline strike. They have some veteran hitters, and the young guys that I haven't seen before, they look like they swing the bat well."
"The White Sox were very good at laying off pitches that were borderline," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "And when they had two strikes, they fouled them off. But [Guthrie] gave us six, and if he had gotten through seven and kept the score the way it was, fine. We didn't get the job done out of the bullpen. That's one of the things we've been saying.
"We feel, especially at home with our offense, if you come out of the bullpen and put zeros up [and] stay away from the big inning, if you don't let the guys in the bottom of the lineup get on and let those other guys get up there, the momentum is going to change and it's going to come back on our side. It didn't happen."
Meanwhile, Baltimore (7-8) struggled to get anything at all against Chicago starter John Danks. The Orioles were unable to push a runner to scoring position in the first four innings, and they didn't score until Luke Scott blasted a solo homer in the fifth. Danks (2-0) worked through the seventh before handing the ball to his relief corps.
And by that point, the game was thoroughly out of reach. Danks tied for the league lead last season with 22 starts in which he held the opposition to two runs or fewer, and he's managed to do that in all three of his starts this season. Danks limited the Orioles to four hits and kept them from even posing a threat for most of the night.
"The difference between Jeremy and Danks tonight was location," Trembley added. "Danks had the three things we were a little short on. He had command of his pitches, movement and he changed speeds."
"He's going to change speeds. He's around [the zone] and he throws strikes," Baltimore third baseman Ty Wigginton said. "He's going to make you swing the bat. Any pitcher, once they get comfortable, they're just going to continue to roll with it. You see that pitcher in the first inning, and it's a battle to get his groove back if he has control problems."
Guthrie actually resembled that remark on Wednesday, as the normally accurate pitcher walked one batter in the first inning and a key one in the second. Guthrie, who squandered a seven-run lead in his previous outing, walked Alexei Ramirez in the second inning, turning over Chicago's lineup early in the game.
Getz responded with a run-scoring single, and Fields doubled to drive home another run. Guthrie, while more critical of his performance than last time, said he still had positive moments to take out of it.
"I was very comfortable [with my mechanics]," he said. "I was working on a couple of things, and, actually, that was one of the positives for me coming out of this outing. I'm not going to leave this outing trying to work on anything. That's a nice spot to be for a pitcher, for a hitter, for anybody. I'm comfortable with where I am. I just need to continue to execute and try to stay down in the zone more consistently and get some better results."
If you exclude the home run, Baltimore didn't get its first runner in scoring position until the eighth inning. Nothing came of that rally, but Nick Markakis and Aubrey Huff delivered hits in the ninth to score the O's final run. Now the Orioles will hope to win Thursday and take their fourth series in five chances.
"That's the goal of every series -- come out, swing the bats, get some good pitching and play some solid 'D,'" said Wigginton. "Throughout the course of a full season, I'm sure most teams get swept once. That's absolutely part of the game. A win could definitely jumpstart us to come back, win a series and hopefully catch momentum."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.