09/03/08 12:19 AM ET
Liz hit hard in Orioles defeat
Right-hander allows nine runs in blowout at hands of Red Sox
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Orioles manager Dave Trembley picked the latest throttling at the hands of the Red Sox to proclaim the low point of his team's season, and he did so with the knowledge that he'll have the odds stacked heavily against him in the series finale. Trembley, normally the most optimistic of baseball men, was at a loss to explain Tuesday's 14-2 loss.
"What could you possibly have to ask me about this game? What do you want me to say?" he asked before anyone could ask him a question. "You hope you get it out of your system. You've hit rock bottom, and you think that sooner [rather] than later it's going to turn for you. That's the only approach I think you can take."
"I don't know how much worse it can get," Trembley said in a more lucid moment. "We'd like to think this is it. We'd like to think that tomorrow's another day and we'll play better. You've got to keep that approach, keep that in mind."
The Orioles won that resignation the hard way, with 12 losses in their past 14 games and a starting rotation that's beginning to come apart at the seams. Baltimore has allowed at least 10 runs four times in its past five games and will go into Wednesday's series finale with a reliever starting on short notice and a bullpen that can only provide limited support.
The carnage started early on Tuesday night, and rookie starter Radhames Liz didn't make it through the fourth inning. The right-hander came back to the big leagues after a roster-imposed demotion and fell prey to the heart of Boston's batting order, with noted slugger David Ortiz driving home four runs and cleanup hitter Dustin Pedroia putting the game away.
Liz, who was demoted to Triple-A Norfolk last week to make room for another position player, was always expected to make this start. And he acquitted himself well in the first two innings, when he held Boston scoreless. The Red Sox struck for four runs in the third inning -- keyed by an Ortiz double -- and six more in the fourth to press the rout.
"One inning he comes out good, and the next inning he struggles -- he's not consistent," said catcher Ramon Hernandez. "The only way you're going to throw a lot of innings is if you get some quick outs. Every time you get deep in the count or walk one guy here or there, your pitch-count's going to go high, and you're only going to be there for five or six innings.
"You have to get quick outs and try to make pitches so the other team will put the ball in play early."
Baltimore appeared to be in the game in the third, but Liz allowed a one-out single and then proceeded to walk the bases loaded. That brought up Ortiz, who slugged a two-run double high off the Green Monster. Boston got another run on a sacrifice fly, and right fielder Mark Kotsay doubled up the first-base line to make it a four-run game.
Things got even scarier in the fourth, as Boston started its rally with two singles sandwiched around a strikeout. Jacoby Ellsbury singled in one run, and Liz went on to walk Jed Lowrie. Ortiz came up to drill another two-run double, and after Liz left the game, Pedroia hit a three-run home run off the Sports Authority sign beyond the Monster.
"I was trying to be too perfect," said Liz, who was charged with a career-high nine earned runs. "My delivery was good, my pitches were good. It's hard sometimes. You try to be a little too perfect, hit the corners sometimes."
That barrage lifted Liz's ERA almost a full run -- from 6.95 to 7.91 -- and it caused three relievers to be worked harder than usual. Baltimore's first run came in the fourth inning on a sacrifice fly, and Boston starter Jon Lester was never really challenged. Lester broke a two-decision losing streak and improved to 6-2 since the All-Star break.
The Orioles will push Lance Cormier to the mound on Wednesday, and Trembley said he hopes to get three innings out of him. After that, he'll turn to his beleaguered bullpen, which has worked overtime in recent days. Trembley said that the morale of his team is untouched, and several of the veterans said they just have to deal with reality.
"It's not easy, but you've got to find a way to get that out of your mind," said Brian Roberts. "I think we're all frustrated, yeah. ... But we've still got a month to go. You've got to find a way to start plugging away and we've got to find some guys to step up. When it gets to this point, you've really got to grind it out. That's why you're professionals."
"You've got to stay positive -- you can't quit," added Hernandez. "We're all grown men. Life is hard, bro, and sometimes you go through tough times. This game is hard. You've just got to keep trying. Everybody's trying the best that they can. Sometimes it works [and] sometimes it doesn't. As long as you try your best, it doesn't matter if it doesn't come out the way you want it. If you're trying your best and everybody knows that, that's all you can do."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.