O's handed eighth straight loss by A's
Offense manages just three hits vs. Braden
OAKLAND -- Gone is the promise of Spring Training and the belief that Baltimore's talented team could translate effortlessly into improvement. Nothing has gone as expected for the Orioles in the season's first week-and-a-half, a fact reflected clearly in the standings where the O's are a Major League-worst 1-10.
"I'll say it very succinctly," manager Dave Trembley said prior to Friday's game. "No one is happy."
That statement proved to be particularly poignant several hours later when the Orioles posted their eighth consecutive loss, a 4-2 defeat to the Athletics in front of a crowd of 12,225 at the Oakland Coliseum.
"The luck of the draw is not on my side right now," said outfielder Adam Jones, referring to the placement of his, and seemingly every ball the Orioles hit, which is square into a defender's glove.
"It's very cliched and it's getting old me saying it, and I'm tired of saying it, that we're going to come out tomorrow and do it," Jones said. "But that's really the only option that we have."
Friday's loss was just the latest bout of bad news for a snakebitten Orioles squad, which saw its third key player -- Felix Pie -- hit the 15-day disabled list prior to the game. Pie joins second baseman Brian Roberts and closer Mike Gonzalez, all three of whom are expected to be shelved longer than the minimum 15 days.
Shelved, in fact, aptly describes the Orioles offense, as Baltimore's bats have been an eyesore for the struggling club. Despite early batting practice and extra work on the field, the O's went 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position Friday, lowering their season RISP average to .128 (10-for-78).
They couldn't muster a hit off A's starter Dallas Braden until Nick Markakis' double in the fourth inning, and the only offense came from one swing of Ty Wigginton's bat. Filling in for Roberts at second base, Wigginton sent a pitch into the second deck in left field for a pair of runs in the fifth.
"It's a situation that I can't explain or put my finger on," Trembley said of the misplaced offense, which is a Major League-worst 1-for-38 (.026) with two outs and runners in scoring position.
"We're a much better ballclub than we've played. And we have experienced, proven hitters that are right now going through a difficult time. But sooner or later, they will break out."
In the interim, the Orioles starters are absorbing the losses. Friday night, it was Kevin Millwood's turn as the veteran right-hander, looking to right the ship, turned in a gutsy performance.
Admittingly pitching without any of his good stuff, Millwood allowed a run in the second and an unearned score in the third. Leadoff man Rajai Davis singled to open that frame, stole second and advanced to third on a throwing error by catcher Matt Wieters.
"My fastball stunk, my slider stunk, my curveball was good at times," Millwood said. "I was just trying to battle and get people out."
It took Millwood 75 pitches to get through the game's first 10 outs, but to his credit, he stayed on the mound through six.
"He's the kind of guy that's going to go out there, no matter what he has, he believes he can win," Wieters said. "And four runs on a night when you don't have your best stuff, three which were earned, is good enough to get a win."
Millwood struck out nine batters -- an Orioles season high -- in the 115-pitch outing. And for the third time this season, he gave the Orioles a quality start without a quality outcome, falling to 0-2.
"He gave us a great chance," Jones said of Millwood. "I was yelling on the dugout and on the bench, 'Let's get him some runs.' He battled his tail off."
Added Trembley: "He pitches with his heart as well as the stuff that he has. The guy just competes, keeps you right in there and every pitch has a purpose to it."
Millwood has a 2.89 ERA in three starts, allowing a total of six earned runs and striking out 20 batters against one walk in 18 2/3 innings. Still, he remains winless on the year, with every starter but Brian Matusz in the same, frustrating boat.
"It's the story of the beginning of the year so far," Wieters said. "Our pitchers have pitched well enough to get wins and battled to get deep into games, and we aren't able to put up enough runs on the board."
In five career starts against the O's, Braden is 5-1 with a 1.57 ERA. He became the sixth opposing starter in 11 games to go at least seven innings against Baltimore, the ninth to last at least six.
"He's tough because he knows how to mix pitches and mix speeds," Wieters said. "He's a tough guy to really try to find a pattern on. But at the same time, we've got to do a better job of finding pitches to hit."
The Orioles are off to their slowest start since going 0-21 in 1988. In six of their eight losses, they've scored two runs or fewer.
"I get tired of answering the same question in a very positive way, but that's the way I will be," Trembley said. "And I will deal with [the slide] as professionally and as upfront as I possibly can. And none of us will let this get the best of us."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.