Error in first inning proves key in O's loss
Berken's relief effort is high note after Bergesen struggles
BALTIMORE -- Tampa Bay's Carl Crawford hit a high popup into the early-afternoon sky with one out in the top of the first inning. Third baseman Miguel Tejada took a few steps to his left, and shortstop Cesar Izturis came in toward the ball for what seemed like an easy play.
But as has been case for the Orioles throughout the first part of the season, everything went wrong. A miscommunication led to the ball falling in between the two, which gave the Rays an extra out. Carlos Pena hit a three-run homer moments later to start another long day for the Orioles as the Rays handed them a 9-1 defeat before 10,248 Wednesday afternoon at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
The victory completed the Rays' three-game sweep as the Orioles finished 0-6 on the homestand. Baltimore fell to 1-8 in its worst start since going 0-21 to begin the 1988 season.
"It's not how you draw it up," Orioles manager Dave Trembley said. "You didn't want to come in here and start like this. We certainly had a lot of opportunities to win our fair share of the games, and we didn't. There's a lot of baseball to play, though."
The first two weeks of the season have been filled with bad breaks that make those associated with the team simply shake their heads in frustration -- and the popup that fell in the first inning was another one of those plays.
Tejada lunged toward the ball at the last second, and it fell in. The third baseman was charged with the error, and instead of having no one on with two outs, Tampa Bay (6-3) was making some noise. Izturis said Tejada thought the shortstop was yelling to make the catch. But Izturis was actually telling Tejada that he couldn't see it and asking for help.
"[He] thought I was calling the ball," Izturis said.
Starter Brad Bergesen got Ben Zobrist on a fly ball before walking Evan Longoria. Pena then homered to left-center for a 3-0 lead that seemed to put the Rays in control early.
"That's tough to bounce back from," Bergesen said. "I wish I was able to get into a groove after that. I was never able to."
He had more trouble in the third inning when B.J. Upton hit a two-out, three-run homer to make it 6-0. Crawford then got an RBI single in the fourth for a 7-0 lead, and that ended Bergesen's day.
Bergesen was one of the team's top starters last year, but he missed the final two months after getting hit in the leg with a line drive. He has struggled in his first two starts this season. Bergesen gave up five runs in 4 2/3 innings in the home opener last Friday and allowed eight runs on seven hits in three-plus innings Wednesday, giving him an 11.74 ERA.
Trembley and Bergesen both said the right-hander is having problems with the sinker he relies upon heavily. The sinker's not dropping as sharply as it did last year, flattening out at times. Bergesen said he'll be working with pitching coach Rick Kranitz on some mechanical problems that could be causing that.
Jason Berken came on for Bergesen and gave up an RBI single to Longoria for an 8-0 lead in the fourth before shutting down the Rays.
Berken wound up pitching five strong innings, giving up one run on three hits. He struck out five and walked just one, with his only run coming on Upton's second homer of the game, a solo shot in seventh.
The strong long-relief effort took some pressure off an already short-handed Baltimore bullpen, and the timing of it couldn't have been better. The Orioles had just lost closer Michael Gonzalez, placed on the 15-day disabled list earlier in the day with a strained left shoulder.
"We've just got to stay positive," Berken said. "You've got to move forward ... and play some good baseball."
The Orioles didn't do much offensively as Rays starter David Price (2-0) held them to one run on four hits in seven innings. Tejada's solo homer in the fourth was the team's offense, as they finished with only six hits.
Now the Orioles head out to Oakland and a long road trip. They will be looking for some way to reverse their poor start.
"We haven't started out any way like we expected," Trembley said. "Everybody's disappointed. No one's happy with it. No one's accepting it."
Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.