04/10/07 11:20 PM ET
Wright leaves early in O's loss
Baltimore right-hander will have shoulder evaluated
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Baltimore's starter was pitching well Tuesday night, but he began to experience tightness before the fifth inning. Wright made it through that inning and left in the sixth of his team's 3-1 loss to Detroit.
Wright (0-2), who has had two surgeries on his pitching shoulder, will consult a doctor Wednesday and didn't seem optimistic that he'd be able to make his next start. If he winds up missing time, he'd be the second member of Baltimore's projected rotation -- along with Kris Benson -- to go down since the start of Spring Training.
"It's not something you want to have happen," said Wright, who missed half the 2005 season with shoulder pain. "I think I'm smart enough now and I've dealt with enough. I know if I kept going that I could probably really hurt it. So now I just wanted to give myself a chance to let the doctors work on it, and [the training staff] to see what we can do."
Wright cruised through the early innings and stranded two runners in scoring position before pitching a perfect fourth inning. He said he felt his shoulder tighten up when he warmed up for the fifth, but he escaped on a ground ball and two strikeouts. Wright's fortune changed in the sixth, when the first batter hit a chopper through the box.
The ball hit Wright and made him lose his balance, and he walked the batter right after that. The Orioles (3-5) came to get him at that point, and the game immediately swung in Detroit's favor. Second baseman Placido Polanco bunted the bases loaded, but reliever Scott Williamson coaxed a perfect double-play ball from the next batter.
Shortstop Miguel Tejada fielded the ball cleanly, but second baseman Brian Roberts threw a low relay past Kevin Millar at first base. Two runs scored on the play, and Baltimore never got closer than that margin.
"Those were the small things that we talked about during Spring Training and throughout the year, but he's not going to make too many mistakes," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "He's a pretty smart kid out there. We'll just move on and he'll get better. We all make an error here and there. Our offense didn't do anything to pick us up on it."
"I threw a ball in the dirt at the wrong time," added Roberts. "It's part of the game, unfortunately. I'd like to do it in an 8-0 game. It's one of those things that you made a bad throw and you move on."
Wright's apparent injury put a damper on a highly effective start. The right-hander struck out five batters and only walked one -- and that lone free pass came after he felt the tightness begin. Wright never faced more than four batters in any inning and took a huge step forward from his season debut, when he was unable to get through the third.
Now, the Orioles need to wait on word from the medical staff and prepare for any possible contingency. If Wright is forced to the disabled list, the most likely option to take his place would be rookie Hayden Penn, who started the season at Triple-A Norfolk. For now, the Orioles plan to bide their time and hear from the doctors.
"He said he felt like he could still go," Perlozzo said of his injured starter. "But at the same time, we didn't want to take any chances. We want to make sure he isn't lost for a longer period of time, so we were pretty cautious with that one. Hopefully it's nothing serious and he could make his next start."
"It's just a tough situation, being in the game and knowing you could keep going, [but] maybe not at 100 percent," Wright said of the decision to end his night early. "There's really no reason to blow it out if we can do stuff to try to fix this early [and] maybe get over the hump. That's what I'm looking for."
Detroit (4-3) came back for another run in the eighth, when Curtis Granderson doubled, moved to third base on a wild pitch and scored on a sacrifice fly. The Tigers left four runners on base, and all four of them were left in scoring position.
Baltimore struggled against Detroit starter Nate Robertson, notching just four hits. Robertson (2-0) spoiled two rallies with double plays, erasing runners in both the third and fourth innings.
"I thought his ball was running away more than I'd ever seen it," Roberts said. "It caused -- I don't know what our stats were -- but a lot of ground-ball outs. He did what he needed to do. Both sides, pitching-wise, did a great job. We probably didn't play our best fundamentally sound baseball game of the year, but we still had a chance to win."
"From what I understand from the hitters, his fastball was moving," Perlozzo said. "He had a lot of movement, especially to right-handed hitters, moving it away from them. He keeps the ball down, moves it in and out."
Tejada singled in the seventh inning and was thrown out trying to stretch the hit to a double. Center fielder Corey Patterson broke up the shutout in the eighth inning with his first home run of the year. That shot came off Detroit reliever Joel Zumaya, but closer Todd Jones locked down the ninth for his fourth save.
"That's a little over-aggressive," Perlozzo said of Tejada's baserunning. "When you're down two, it should be a bang-bang play if you are going to do something like that. Again, that's another small thing. It could have come back to haunt us there a little bit. I don't know what would've happened after that, but you can't get thrown out in that situation."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.