08/06/08 8:42 PM ET
Orioles drop series finale to Angels
Starter Olson chased early; Montanez homers in first at-bat
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Los Angeles came out swinging Wednesday, doing its best to erase the memory of a masterful performance from Chris Waters the night before. The Angels scored multiple runs in three of the first four innings, chasing Olson early and never allowing the Orioles to come within striking distance en route to their seventh win in their past 10 games.
"It would've been a good one for everybody to take something positive from," said Baltimore manager Dave Trembley, speaking of Tuesday's one-hit shutout. "Waters last night, I dare say most of his pitches weren't above the thigh. They were thigh or knee level, and he changed speeds and located. [Olson] had an awful lot of hitting counts right from the get-go."
"I think the bottom line is, if you make better pitches, you're going to see better results," said Olson. "He did a great job of getting ahead of every hitter with strike one and just keeping the ball down. You saw that he had a lot of ground-ball outs. When a team is hitting off you like that, that shows if you are missing, you're missing down and you've got that late two-seam action going on. He also, as the game went on, was able to throw his offspeed pitches for strikes, which makes it even more difficult for their lineup."
Olson (8-6) didn't have any of those things going for him Wednesday, unless you count the game's first two batters. The southpaw recorded two easy outs and got ahead of Mark Teixeira before losing his edge. Teixeira fought him off for a single, and cleanup hitter Vladimir Guerrero put the Angels ahead to stay with a monstrous homer to left field.
Los Angeles (71-43) went on to score once more in the first inning, and catcher Jeff Mathis touched Olson for a solo homer in the second. The left-hander -- who was pitching in front of 30 family members and friends -- couldn't get his bearings in the third, when he walked one batter and gave up four hits to push the home team six runs ahead.
That was it for Olson, who tied his second-shortest outing of the season, but the Angels went on to score three runs off reliever Lance Cormier in the fourth. Baltimore never got closer than five runs down for the rest of the game.
"He's got Teixeira with two strikes and then lets him off the hook," said Trembley, going back to the first inning. "And the pitch to Guerrero looked like it was on a tee. It looked like it was just right there. And these guys have such a club and such a lineup that they're not going to miss them or foul them straight back. They're going to make you pay for them."
"I felt like I was relaxed most of the time," added Olson. "I just didn't make some pitches that I needed to. I think, just kind of early -- I guess it started with Teixeira -- I couldn't put him away there, and he gets the base hit on the right side. Then I just didn't make a good pitch to Vladimir. Quickly down two runs, it just kind of escalated the wrong way."
Meanwhile, Baltimore (54-59) got an assist from rookie left fielder Lou Montanez, who was making his first big league start. Montanez homered in his first at-bat, becoming just the second player in Orioles history to achieve that feat. He also singled in the fifth and scored on a three-run homer by right fielder Nick Markakis that made it a five-run game.
The only other Oriole to homer in his first at-bat was Buster Narum, a pitcher who did it in May 1963.
"You never expect that," said Montanez of his first at-bat, which placed him firmly in Baltimore lore. "But you do envision this when you were a kid for your first at-bat. You want to go deep, and it actually came true, so it's real special."
Markakis' homer was the last time Baltimore scored, and Angels starter Ervin Santana cruised through the seventh inning to take the victory. Santana (13-5) had been outdueled by Olson two starts ago, but he provided his own alternate history on Wednesday.
"You don't want to fall behind against a team like that, against a pitcher like that. That's for sure," said second baseman Brian Roberts, a two-time All-Star. "But it happens sometimes. Garrett didn't have his best stuff, obviously. They got some hits early and scored some runs, and we had to try to battle back, but it's too tough against them."
The score would have been even more lopsided if not for a pair of highlight reel plays by center fielder Jay Payton. Payton ranged back to the wall in the bottom of the fifth inning and leapt high to snare an apparent home run by Juan Rivera. And then in the sixth inning, he ran full-tilt into the wall and left a cleat mark catching a ball off the bat of Erick Aybar.
"For the most part, unless the ball is crushed, you always think you have a chance to get to it. Even the one that Mathis hit, when he hit it, I thought I had a chance," the veteran outfielder said. "You don't really think about the wall.
"The only time you think about the wall is when you're in Wrigley, because if you hit that wall, you're not going to get up. For the most part, you just try to find the wall and make a play, and hopefully it won't jar you too much."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.