05/13/09 11:44 PM ET
Shorthanded O's can't catch Rays
Already down several players, club loses Jones to injury
By Spencer Fordin / MLB.com
Jones, Baltimore's hottest hitter in the past few weeks, left due to a mildly strained right hamstring after singling in his third at-bat. That potentially troublesome injury has been classified as day-to-day, but it adds to the team's jumbled outfield picture that already included Luke Scott and Felix Pie.
In fact, losing Jones caused the Orioles to reshuffle their roster. Baltimore recalled Nolan Reimold from Triple-A Norfolk after the game to cover for both Jones and Scott over the next few days.
"We don't know if it's going to be day-to-day with them," said manager Dave Trembley. "We don't know if it's going to be two or three days. We don't know what's going to take place down the road. ...We're basically two outfielders short now, and I won't know what the status of Jones and Scott is until we get to Kansas City."
The Orioles went into Wednesday's game believing that Scott would have to sit out due to a shoulder injury, and they expected Pie to get another night off due to a stomach illness. But when Jones had a hard time getting out of the box in his second at-bat and grimaced in his third, the Orioles had to make other plans.
"It felt like more of a cramp, a deep cramp that won't get out," said Jones, who missed time in April with a similar injury. "Hopefully, I can be back tomorrow, if I had it my way. But hopefully a couple days."
Pie ended up subbing for Jones -- who drove in a game-tying run in his final at-bat -- for the rest of the game. The youngster singled in his first at-bat and homered in his second, but Trembley still isn't sure what to expect from him. For now, Pie will likely play center field as long as Jones is on the shelf.
"Pie came up big," said Trembley. "Pie gave new theory to batting practice being overrated tonight. He didn't take batting practice [and] he was iffy on whether or not he was going to be able to play. I didn't get clearance that he was going to play until after 6 o'clock. I went up, checked with him and he said he was a go."
There was an odd bit of symmetry in how Wednesday's runs were scored. Both the Rays (16-19) and Orioles scored their first run on solo home runs, and they both scored for the second time in the fourth inning. Tampa Bay pulled away with a sixth-inning rally, then both teams scored four runs in a hectic ninth inning.
Baltimore (14-20) fell to 4-3 on its homestand and saw several opportunities fall by the wayside Wednesday night. The Orioles left the bases loaded in the second inning and stranded two runners each in the first and third. Jeff Niemann (3-3) turned them away each time, and the Rays went on to make Baltimore pay.
"I'd say we came up a hit short," said Trembley. "And a couple hits from turning around a real tough top of the ninth and making it a tremendous come-from-behind win. It didn't happen."
Tampa Bay slowly pulled away from Baltimore, using a sixth-inning rally centered around a Carlos Pena double. Willy Aybar singled in one run, and Dioner Navarro knocked in another on a sacrifice fly. That was the difference against Brad Bergesen, who worked into the sixth inning for the fourth time in five outings.
"It's such a funny game," said Bergesen, who fell to 1-1. "I thought I had the best stuff I've had all year. I felt good and then that last inning, I left a couple balls up and they took advantage. ... I talked to [Chad Moeller] after the game and he was telling me the same thing. The ball was coming out of my hand really good today."
Reliever Bob McCrory, who wound up getting optioned to Norfolk after the game, was responsible for most of the ninth-inning damage. The right-handed rookie had gotten two outs in the eighth, but he then walked three batters and gave up three consecutive run-scoring hits -- all of which went up the middle -- before escaping the ninth.
The Orioles put together a rally of their own, starting on a double by Cesar Izturis and continuing on a two-run home run by Brian Roberts. Pie followed with his own home run, and Aubrey Huff doubled and scored on a single from Melvin Mora. Jay Howell allowed that final hit and got the last two outs for his first save.
"In retrospect," said Trembley, "We needed to put up a zero late in the game and we didn't do it."
Spencer Fordin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.