Well, we knew we weren’t going to go 162-0. And tonight the Orioles lost to the Detroit Tigers 7-3 at Camden Yards (and I was there to witness it). Here are my observations on our first loss of the 2011 season:
Detroit pitcher Justin Verlander had our number tonight. He pitched 8 innings, gave up 3 runs on only 4 hits, and stuck out 9. His pitch count was only 108 and 75 of those were strikes. Incredibly efficient and had the O’s hitters stumped for pretty much the entire game.
The O’s defense let them down in a big way. Yes, the defense that had been stellar in the first four games, allowed the first two runs of the game to score. In the second inning, Brad Bergensen was throwing a lot of pitches and getting behind hitters. But he had managed to get the first five outs without allowing any hits. Then, after getting the first two outs in the second, Brennan Boesch hit a shallow fly ball to right field. Brian Roberts went out and Nick Markakis came in. What appeared to be a lack of communication (clearly the outfielder should have called off the infielder), Roberts attempted to make the catch awkwardly – and he dropped the ball. This was all it took to rattle Bergensen, as he gave up a walk to Jhonny Peralta and a two-run double to Alex Avilia. Without the error, Bergensen is out of the inning – and who knows how much better he might have done. As it was, he only made it through 3 2/3 innings, giving up another two runs in the fourth.
The bullpen didn’t fair much better. Josh Rupe came in to relieve Bergensen. He got out of the third and was cruising with two outs in the fourth – and then, again, the flood gates opened. Rupe made two back-to-back down the middle of the plate pitches that lead to back-to-back solo jacks for Magglio Ordonez and Victor Martinez. Josh, dude, this is the power of the line-up. Don’t lay in pitches like that. You will pay for your mistakes. Michael Gonzalez didn’t do much better, giving up a run in his 1 1/3 innings of work. And Kevin Gregg, who worked a scoreless 9th, still managed to give up two hits. Bullpen – tighten it up guys. There will be times when we need you and you will have to do better.
I will end with the positive. First, we are 4-1 – still a top the division. And tonight Derek Lee hit his first home run as an Oriole (hopefully the first of many). And Vlad Guerrero had two hits and an RBI – off of one tough pitcher. We can only hope this is the beginning of better days at the plate for these two new O’s.