Pitching plagues Orioles in Red Sox finale
Berken doesn't make it out of second, relievers falter
BALTIMORE -- The day started out troublesome and moved way out into another territory.
Manager Dave Trembley had to deal with a case of discontent from his longest-tenured player on Sunday, then he had to sit through a full-fledged pitching implosion. Starter Jason Berken was knocked out in the second inning, and the Orioles fell to an 18-10 loss and a series sweep to the Red Sox.
And along the way, they recorded some dubious distinctions. Baltimore allowed 23 hits in the loss, the fourth-highest total in franchise history and the most since a 30-3 loss to Texas in August 2007. Eight of Boston's starters scored at least one run, and five of them scored at least twice.
"I just chalk it up as one of those days," said third baseman Ty Wigginton. "There's that song, 'Momma said there will be days like this.' She definitely forgot to tell us how many there's going to be."
Despite the one-sided score, the game did have its competitive moments. The Red Sox jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first three innings, only to see the Orioles respond with a six-run jaunt in the third. That was as close as it got, though, as Boston (62-42) scored seven runs in the fourth to put things out of reach.
Berken, who has lost nine consecutive decisions, wound up with the shortest start of his brief career. Berken (1-9) gave up four runs in the first inning, three of which scored on a double by right fielder J.D. Drew. Berken allowed four consecutive batters to reach base in the second inning and left trailing by six runs.
"He won his first game and hasn't gotten a win since," said pitching coach Rick Kranitz. "I think he's probably shaken, as he probably should be. He's got to pitch better. ... You get a lot better results when you pitch down in the strike zone and ahead as opposed to behind and up -- especially against a ballclub like that and in a ballpark like this, when it's carrying the way it was today. And you know what? They absolutely hit everything."
Trembley, who had started his day trying to address the concerns of Melvin Mora, found himself scrambling to get some outs. The Orioles (44-60) briefly turned to Brian Bass, who worked into the fourth inning, but Matt Albers was only able to record one out and was charged with four earned runs.
All five of Baltimore's relievers were scored upon, and the group collectively allowed 16 hits and 12 earned runs. Seven of those runs came in the decisive fourth inning, which saw Boston bat around and net eight hits. Seven of those hits went for singles.
Kranitz said that the flow of the game was dictated by his starting pitcher.
"You can't walk the leadoff guy," he said. "You've got to be able to make your presence known out there. By pitching behind and up, when you start like that, it's hard to turn it off. ... And when our relievers came in, they paid for it."
Baltimore briefly made things interesting against Boston starter Clay Buchholz. Adam Jones and Aubrey Huff delivered run-scoring doubles in the third inning, and Wigginton blasted a two-run homer. Buchholz escaped, though, and the Red Sox got some sturdy relief work over the rest of the game.
Catcher Gregg Zaun, who got the start for the Orioles, was ejected in the fourth inning by home-plate umpire Hunter Wendelstedt. After being called out on strikes, Zaun shouted at Wendelstedt from the dugout and was ejected after a brief exchange of words. Moments later, Zaun took his debate to the field.
Zaun said that he was just trying to protect his pitcher and his team.
"I have a lot of respect for Hunter," Zaun said. "My only problem with what transpired is the fact that he had very well established that he was going to keep pitchers in the heart of the plate. The strike zone seemed to change during my at-bat, and after a long and frustrating day, I let my emotions get the best of me. We hadn't gotten the benefit of any borderline strike calls the entire game, and the two pitches I took in that at-bat were borderline at best."
From his perspective behind the plate, Zaun said that Berken threw better than the numbers might indicate. Trembley didn't agree, though, and said that the Orioles have to find a way to make Berken more comfortable. That could mean a switch in roles, or even a demotion to Triple-A Norfolk.
"They know exactly what their stats are," said Trembley of his players. "They know all of it. They know it better than you and me. They're reminded of it constantly, and I think we've got to try and do something to help Berken. What you try and do is, you try and do something in the best interest of the team, and that's the same answer to all of the other things that people are asking me today when it comes to individuals on this team."
With that last comment, Trembley was undoubtedly referring to Mora, who had remarked earlier in the day that he felt he was being disrespected by a lack of playing time in recent days. Trembley had a discussion with Mora before the game but elected not to reveal the details, keeping them between him and his third baseman.
"Let me put it to you this way: I'm not going to get into a thing of 'he said, she said,' " Trembley said. "I don't talk through the newspaper. Here's where I'm coming from: It's about the team. It's never about one guy."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.