Here's a quick summary of the weekend in Orioles baseball (Sunday's recap includess previews and standings information)...
Toronto Blue Jays 12, Orioles 0
WP: Josh Towers (9-9)
LP: Daniel Cabrera (8-11)
Toronto took advantage of Melvin Mora's throwing error and Daniel Cabrera's complete loss of composure there-after to the tune of four runs in the first inning. Cabrera settled down and ended up giving up five runs over four innings, with only one of them earned. But it was far too late for the Orioles, who couldn't get anything going against Josh Towers, who pitched a complete game shutout, scattering nine hits, striking out two and walking none. Rick Dempsey's nephew Gregg Zaun had five RBIs for the Jays.
Orioles 1, Toronto Blue Jays 0
WP: John Maine (1-0)
LP: Dave Bush (2-6)
S: B.J. Ryan (26)
What a difference a day makes. After getting shellacked 12-0, the O's come back and win a 1-0 squeaker the next day. John Maine, who had lost his last seven decisions in Triple-A Ottawa, got the call-up to pitch in place of the injured Sidney Ponson. Maine went five innings, giving up two hits and three walks while striking out three Blue Jays. Tim Byrdak, Todd Williams and B.J. Ryan combined for four innings of shutout ball to keep the O's on top.
For the second straight night, a Blue Jays starter pitched a complete game, but it was the eight-inning variety because Dave Bush's team was losing so there was no need for the O's to bat in the ninth.
Toronto Blue Jays 7, Orioles 6
WP: Jason Frasor (2-5)
LP: Tim Byrdak (0-1)
S: Miguel Batista (21)
BAL: 57-60 (4th in AL East, 12 behind Boston)
Rafael Palmeiro returned to the lineup to mixed reactions from the crowd, but you already knew that because it was overplayed on every sports cast, Web site and news station ever.
Meanwhile, the O's and Jays played a baseball game, and the Orioles had tons of chances to win but didn't. Erik Bedard pitched five innings and left the game with a 4-3 lead, but Toronto tied it in the sixth on a run that never should have scored because, with a runner on first, Jason Grimsley got what appeared to be an inning-ending double play grounder to Melvin Mora, but the pitch was ruled foul by the third base umpire. Later in the inning, Orlando Hudson singled in the run to make it 4-4.
More bad umpiring in the eighth led to three Toronto runs. With two outs and Russ Adams on second, Reed Johnson hit a fly ball that dropped in front of Sammy Sosa. Sosa made a good throw home and Javy Lopez blocked the plate and attempted to apply the tag, but the ump said that he missed. Whether or not that is true is irrelevant, though, because in avoiding the tag, Adams also completely avoided home plate. The ump missed it and called him safe, turning what should have been the third out into the lead-taking run. Toronto then scored two more in the inning to make it 7-4.
The O's tried to rally in the ninth, getting a leadoff single from Luis Matos, a Brian Roberts double to put men on second and third, a Melvin Mora groundout that scored Matos, a plunked Tejada for the second time in the game, and a Javy Lopez single that scored Brian Roberts with two outs. After all that, the score was 7-6 with two outs and runners on first and second for who else but Rafael Palmeiro.
It really felt like something big was going to happen. It would have been so perfect after the steroid suspension and all that followed for Raffy to blast a homer and win it in a walkoff. But alas, karma is a bitch unless you're the Yankees and you've sold your souls to the devil (then your steroid-jacked players hit 14 homers in July or make the All-Star game and go on ESPN to tell Stephen A. Smith that people "caught" taking steroids should be suspended for a full year instead of 10 games, even though they admitted to a grand jury that they, themselves, were on steroids! ... but anyways). Palmeiro hit a weak pop-up to right field and the game ended, 7-6.
The Orioles now head to Oakland for a three game set against the scorching A's. Tonight it's the O's winningest pitcher, Rodrigo Lopez (11-6, 4.77 ERA, throws right) against curveball artist Barry Zito (11-8, 3.62 ERA, throws left) at 10:05.
The O's could have really used a series win and a 5-1 homestand to boost their confidence, but it almost seemed like they HAD to lose the Raffy-return game. Everything, it seemed, went wrong.
Still, a 4-2 homestand is pretty good compared to the way the team was playing, and they now have the challenge of facing Wild Card leading Oakland at their house.
Zito's been on fire lately, going 8-0 and posting a 2.28 ERA over his last 10 starts (which means at one point he was 3-8). Rodrigo went 8.2 innings in his last start, but gave up five runs well after the game had been decided because the Orioles were beating Tampa's ass.
A series win over the Athletics would be huge for the O's, because the A's are a good team, and the type of team that the O's just do NOT beat (as of late). Raffy's not playing today, so maybe the baseball gods won't possess the umps and give our relief pitchers' spaghetti-arms like they did yesterday.
Yes. Karma is a bitch. Bench Raffy.