O's late rally falls just short against Yankees
Wigginton, Wieters, Reimold homer; Hernandez handed loss
NEW YORK -- In what has become a near-daily routine, manager Dave Trembley spent a good portion of Wednesday's pregame session discussing his team's lack of offense.
"The fact of the matter is, more times than not, it's been the direct result of getting ourselves out," Trembley said. "Not the pitcher getting us out."
On Wednesday, the Orioles' struggling bats added another element: taking the rest of the inning with them. Baltimore put up three hits in Yankees starter Andy Pettitte's first two frames, and both times came up short, grounding into ill-timed double plays. The Orioles put up four runs in the game's final two innings, but couldn't overcome the effects of four double-play balls and an ineffective outing from starter David Hernandez, resulting in a 7-5 loss to New York in front of a crowd of 43,425 at Yankee Stadium.
When asked to describe Wednesday's loss, which sunk the Orioles' Major League-worst record to 7-21, second baseman Ty Wigginton needed only one word: ugly.
"It was definitely one of our sloppier games of the year," said Wigginton, who blasted a two-run homer in the eighth but had a hand in several of the Orioles' miscues.
Wigginton was late getting to second base on Francisco Cervelli's bunt in the fourth inning, making his first move to first base because Garrett Atkins was coming in for the bunt. Third baseman Miguel Tejada, fielded the ball, but chose to not throw it because, well, no one was there.
"I didn't want to throw the ball into center field," Tejada said. "Everybody yelled second, but there was nobody at second. That's why I didn't throw."
Wigginton was charged with an error on Nick Johnson's eight-inning single up the middle, a ball that kicked off his foot and scooted away, allowing Randy Winn to score. In the next at-bat, Atkins misplayed Mark Teixeira's ball for the Orioles' second error of the afternoon. Teixiera's two-run double was arguably error No. 3, as backup outfielder Lou Montanez looked in position to make the play, only to lose the ball in the sun.
Trembley acknowledged that it was a tough play, particularly given that Montanez made his first start in center Wednesday, but the ball was catchable.
"I feel like if that sun wasn't there, I would have made the play," said Montanez, who assumed center-field duties for Adam Jones, who was scratched from the original lineup with a right hip strain.
"There's not much you can do. That's the way things are going right now. It seems like we can't get any breaks."
The O's sloppy defense would come back to haunt them later in the game, as Wigginton's two-run homer was followed by a pair of solo shots form Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold in the ninth. The scores cut the Orioles deficit to two, but that was as close as they would get.
"We just made some bad plays," right fielder Nick Markakis said. "That's just the way things are going right now. We need to figure it out and figure it soon."
The loss caps a series the Orioles would rather forget. Baltimore was outscored, 15-7, in the three-game set, going 0-for-16 with runners in scoring position and stranding 19 on base.
"We played good enough to stay in games but not good enough to win," Wieters said.
"It's definitely frustrating, because a couple hits here and there, if you find the holes, could break the game open in our way."
The Orioles' best shot to rattle Pettitte, who tossed a season-low five innings before exiting with a stiff throwing elbow, came in the fourth, when Markakis and Tejada delivered a pair of one-out singles. Atkins walked to load the bases, and after Pettitte sent Wieters down on a swinging strikeout, Reimold worked a walk to put the O's on the board But Craig Tatum grounded out to end the threat and keep Pettitte in line for the win. The Orioles didn't score again until Wigginton's eight-inning homer.
"Andy wasn't at the top of his game," Trembley said of Pettitte, who improved to 27-6 with a 3.57 ERA in 41 career games (39 starts) against Baltimore.
"We made him work. We let him off the hook; we really did. We let him off the hook."
Hernandez wasn't nearly as lucky.
Still searching for his first win, Hernandez lasted just 3 2/3 innings on the hill, allowing solo homers to Nick Johnson and Nick Swisher to give the Yankees a lead that they wouldn't relinquished.
While a victim of poor run support in the past, Hernandez shouldered a good portion of Wednesday's blame.
"I didn't pitch deep enough in the game to give guys a chance to give me runs," he said. "I mean, if you go out there and pitch three innings, what more can you really expect? I didn't expect a whole lot from that."
Following Swisher's second-inning blast, pitching coach Rick Kranitz was ejected by home-plate umpire Paul Emmel after Hernandez's first pitch to Brett Gardner was ruled a ball. Hernandez (0-4), who had trouble with his two-seamer all afternoon, was charged with a season-high six earned runs on six hits and four walks in his shortest stint this year.
"It's tough when you don't get those pitches [lower in the zone], you are forced to pitch up in the zone and it's a tough lineup to get through," Hernandez said of the defending World Series champion Yankees.
"And, I didn't make very many good pitches, anyways. It was, overall, it was a rough one."
Winless on the first leg of a seven-game road trip, the Orioles have no choice but to wash Wednesday's loss off in the shower and hope for a better showing Thursday in Minnesota.
"Obviously the record is frustrating -- overall," Wigginton said. "We've got to find a way to keep grinding out. We've got to show up prepared every single day to win a ballgame. If we take that attitude from here on out, we can turn this thing around."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.