The Baltimore Orioles exceeded expectations for the first four months of this season. Those good feelings, however, have been nearly completely erased by a dreadful final two months.
The listless Orioles try to end a season-high 10-game losing streak Saturday night as they continue a three-game set against the visiting Toronto Blue Jays.
Baltimore (67-92) entered 2008 with very low expectations following the offseason trades of Miguel Tejada and Erik Bedard with 100 losses a possibility. Despite a weak rotation and an overworked bullpen, the Orioles were just two games under .500 on Aug. 15 and appeared to be capable of playing spoiler down the stretch.
Injuries to closer George Sherrill, setup man Jim Johnson and top starter Jeremy Guthrie began to take their toll and have contributed to Baltimore’s current 5-27 slide. The Orioles will have a losing record for the 11th straight season and are guaranteed to finish last for the first time since 1988.
The losing continued on Friday as Scott Richmond earned his first major league victory with six strong innings in Toronto’s 3-0 rain-shortened win.
The 10-game skid is the Orioles’ longest since they lost 12 in a row in August 2004.
“We hit some balls hard in the first couple of innings, but right at them,” manager Dave Trembley lamented.
Curtis Thigpen hit his first big league homer for the Blue Jays (85-75), who have won 11 of 16 against the Orioles this season, including five of seven at Camden Yards. A sweep of this series would give Toronto 87 wins, matching its highest total since it won 88 games in 1998.
John Parrish (1-0, 4.10 ERA) returns to a starting role for Toronto as he faces his former team for the third time this season. The left-hander is 1-0 with a 5.40 ERA in five starts for the Blue Jays, the last coming at Yankee Stadium on Aug. 30.
Parrish, who spent his first six seasons with the Orioles, has faced Baltimore twice in 2008. He didn’t receive a decision against them on July 10 after allowing three runs and six hits in seven innings of Toronto’s 6-5 victory. He also pitched three innings in relief on Sept. 16.
Brian Bass (3-4, 5.08) seeks his first win in more than three months and his first with the Orioles. Bass has no record and a 5.40 ERA in three starts since being thrust into Baltimore’s tattered rotation. He didn’t allow a hit but was pulled after walking three straight batters in the fifth inning against Tampa Bay on Monday. The right-hander ended up allowing two runs and four walks in the Orioles’ 4-2 loss.
Bass was charged with five runs and seven hits over 4 1-3 innings in his club’s 8-7 loss at Toronto on Sept. 17.