05/16/10 5:59 PM ET
O's come up empty in rubber game vs. Tribe
Hendrickson lasts five-plus in place of Hernandez
By Brittany Ghiroli / MLB.com
The sinkerballer pitched around eight singles, inducing 15 groundouts en route to a commanding complete-game performance that handed Baltimore a 5-1 loss in front of a crowd of 29,323 on Sunday afternoon.
"You go back and look at film, you look at the pitches we had to hit, [there] really wasn't much on the table," said designated hitter Luke Scott, who blasted a full-count homer in the ninth inning for the Orioles' lone score.
"[Westbrook] was getting ahead for the most part, getting us behind in the count."
And making Baltimore's bats look foolish in the process. Westbrook fanned eight batters and issued just one walk, to Corey Patterson in the fifth inning. Adam Jones followed the free pass with an inning-ending double play to mark the second consecutive inning Westbrook wiggled out of trouble with a double-play ball.
"He mixed in enough sliders, so if you went to get on the sinker, the ball is diving away," Ty Wigginton said. "You get a lot of bad swings when a guy has a good sinker working. He mixed in some changeups late and he deserves all the credit for [Sunday's] game. He was outstanding."
Wigginton, who entered the contest second in the Majors with 12 homers, was robbed of an extra-base hit in his first at-bat in the first inning. With two outs and a pair of runners on base, center fielder Grady Sizemore made an inning-ending diving catch on Wigginton's ball, taking with it some of the game's early momentum.
Despite multi-hit games from Wigginton, Scott and Craig Tatum, the Orioles couldn't deliver a key hit when they needed to, allowing Westbrook to scatter nine hits and going 0-for-4 with runners in scoring position with six men left on base.
"They're an aggressive team," Westbrook said of the Orioles, who collectively ranked among the bottom tier of Major League clubs in pitches seen per plate appearance. "I was able to get them to hit the ball on the ground. That helps out when they hit it right at guys; it makes for some shorter innings."
While manager Dave Trembley didn't hesitate to give Westbrook credit, he acknowledged that the Orioles' bats -- which were held to three runs in the series' final 18 innings -- did little to put pressure on the right-hander.
"[Westbrook] was throwing a sinkerball and he had a sweeping breaking pitch," Trembley said. "I don't know about [the hitters] being patient. I would say he expanded the strike zone and we helped him."
Conversely, the Orioles did little to help reliever Mark Hendrickson. Pitching in lieu of scheduled starter David Hernandez -- who is day-to-day with right shoulder discomfort -- Hendrickson gave his team a respectable five-plus innings. The big lefty allowed a run in the third inning on Sizemore's single before Matt LaPorta went yard for a monster two-run homer in the fourth. LaPorta's ball sailed over the deepest part of the park in center field, traveling an estimated 432 feet and putting the Indians up, 3-0. Alberto Castillo allowed a two-run homer in the ninth to give the Tribe a five-run cushion.
"Hendrickson gave us what he had," Trembley said, noting that the lefty's 59 pitches exceeded his expectations. Hendrickson's previous high was 33 back on April 9, which was his first outing of the year. One of the Orioles' two long men in the bullpen, Hendrickson's previous season high was just 2 1/3 innings, making Sunday's start a stretch.
"I knew I probably was going to pitch with a little fatigue, but that wasn't going to be a problem for me, just staying focused and trying to make pitches and just go as long as I can," Hendrickson said. "I think it's one of those things, the bullpen, we needed to pick up David. Hopefully he is going to get healthy and get back and we can fall into place."
The loss drops the Orioles to 12-26 on the year and 3-3 on their current eight-game homestand. It's a disappointing mark given that the O's blew a two-run lead in the ninth inning Saturday night and squandered a key chance to secure a series win against a struggling Indians squad. Cleveland entered the three-game series 13-19.
"We won two out of three against Seattle and we came in here, and we had a chance to win the series today and we didn't," Trembley said. "So, you put it in the books and you get ready to play the Royals [on Monday]. That's what you do. And you expect to play better and you expect to win the last two games here."
Brittany Ghiroli is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.