In Samuel's debut, O's fall to Red Sox
Tillman roughed up early as losing streak reaches nine
BALTIMORE -- Friday was supposed to signal the start of a new season at Camden Yards, a fundamentally sound Orioles team that played with enthusiasm and aggression, two attributes interim manager Juan Samuel mentioned frequently in a pair of pregame news conferences announcing his takeover.
Instead, starter Chris Tillman floundered in an abbreviated four-out stint, putting the Orioles' sluggish offense in an early hole they did nothing to reverse. The result -- a 11-0, series-opening loss to the Red Sox -- saw Boston's power-heavy bats steal all the aggressiveness and starter Clay Bucholz's shutout the enthusiasm, as he ended with heavy cheers from a Red Sox-heavy crowd of 30,070 at Camden Yards.
As for the Orioles, a whirlwind day -- which started with Dave Trembley's dismissal as manager -- ended with the same familiar feel. Friday's loss was Baltimore's ninth straight, tying a season high and dropping the team to 3-16 over its last 19 games.
"We got our [butts] handed to us," center fielder Adam Jones said. "We haven't been playing our best baseball lately. But that's why we have so many games. I don't think that not one person comes in here every day not thinking that we are not going to walk out with a 'W.'"
Given the way the O's offense has gone, that train of thought became increasingly hard to believe with Buchholz on the hill, dissecting Baltimore's lineup with surgical precision. He allowed just three singles in the first seven innings en route to his eighth win of the year. Buchholz -- who yielded five hits total -- had thrown only one other shutout, which came on Sept. 1, 2007, when he no-hit Baltimore at Fenway Park.
"Any time you have a changeup like he does and you can throw it in any count, as a hitter, I think you have your work cut out for you," Samuel said. "He throws a good changeup 3-2, [in] good counts, because he had good command of all his pitches."
Buchholz became the 30th starter in 54 games to last at least seven innings against Baltimore. Opposing arms have made 38 quality starts against the O's, pitching six frames or more 40 times. Given Buchholz's hot streak and the O's cold bats, it was a fateful mix as soon as Tillman allowed his first run.
It didn't take long. Making his second start this season, the 22-year-old Tillman struggled from the onset, with Marco Scutaro singling on Tillman's sixth offering and a pair of walks to Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz giving the Red Sox a quick bases-loaded scenario.
Still, Tillman nearly got out of the jam, striking out Kevin Youkilis and retiring Victor Martinez on an RBI groundout. But J.D. Drew drove a high fastball into center field for a two-out, two-run double that gave the Red Sox all the momentum they needed.
"That was the game right there, that one single at-bat," Tillman said. "I had him 1-2 and I missed terribly trying to go away. I threw middle in. These guys are way too good of hitters to miss like that. When you do that, you are not setting yourself up to throw a decent ballgame or have success."
Boston scored again in the second, courtesy of Pedrioa's RBI single, knocking Tillman from the game after just 1 1/3 innings and 57 pitches.
"I felt like I didn't have a chance to get really anything going [Friday night]," Tillman said. "I fell behind in counts, had to go to the fastball and they were sitting on it. I think you can see what happened."
He was hardly the only Orioles arm who struggled, with all three of the relievers that followed Tillman allowing Boston to go yard. Long man Mark Hendrickson's three scores were unearned given that Bill Hall reached on a strikeout and ensuing passed ball by catcher Matt Wieters. Hall and Scutaro both scored on Youkilis' 428-foot blast to left, and Matt Albers followed Hendrickson by surrendering a solo blast to Adrian Beltre in the fifth. Scutaro went deep off Frank Mata in the eighth to complete the power display.
While Baltimore didn't want to make any excuses, Friday's whirlwind of events -- and dismissal of the only Major League manager many of the players had played for -- was a tough adjustment to make.
"There's a lot going on in the clubhouse today," Tillman admitted. "I tried to keep myself there and get myself prepared for the game, but it's tough, I think, especially on me getting ready for the game, and prepared. Being a young guy, I didn't really know how to handle it."
Samuel, who pointed out some of the positives -- such as the team's hustle -- looked rightfully drained.
"Well, we got the first one out of the way for me," he said.
The Orioles can only hope the first 'W' follows soon thereafter.
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.