In the top of the 6th, with Jim Johnson having to come on to relieve starter Jake Arrieta, Felix Pie badly missed a ball out in left field that was scored as a Matt LaPorta double. The ball was the kind of sinking liner that should be easily caught, but Pie didn't get his glove down far enough and it bounced past him to the wall. The next batter was the recently-called-up Lonnie Chisenhall, who singled to right, with LaPorta scoring when Nick Markakis air-mailed the throw to the plate and didn't come close. Talk about your representative loss for this year. This was the go-ahead run to break a 5-5 tie and despite having 12 outs to work with, the Orioles didn't score another run on the way to their ninth straight loss.
Arrieta continued the trend of bad starts from the starters. He went only five innings, giving up five earned runs as he surrendered eight hits and three walks. Home runs by Asdrubal Cabrera and Grady Sizemore, each with a man on base, accounted for four of the runs. Although if we want to get technical, Arrieta's ERA tonight of 9.00 will actually slightly lower the starter ERA in the last 18 games, which is over 9. O's pitching has allowed at least ten hits in their last ten games.
I want to re-visit Pie in left field. He had his phaser set to suck tonight. Aside from the misplayed liner that ultimately cost the losing run, he looked like a complete disaster out there. Another misplayed ball from Sizemore that flew over Pie's head - despite him being at a full sprint, he took that bad a route - bounced off the wall for a double, and on the Cabrera homer, Pie was completely turned around as he tried to track the ball on the way to the fence. He never jumped for it. I doubt that he would have caught it. The ball wasn't deep in the stands, but it was second row and probably out of glove reach. I would have been happier if Felix at least showed that he has the skill to get there, facing the right direction and maybe jumping at it.
The O's really need to face reality right now. Every game they play Felix in left field (especially if they play him instead of Nolan), they are significantly damaging their team's chances of winning. He can't make plays in the field and he is bombing at the plate this year. He took an 0-3 tonight and was probably only saved the 0-4 because Buck asked him to sacrifice Nolan Reimold (who led off the 9th with a walk) into scoring position. That was one of those situations where I can't get too mad about the sac bunt because it's not like I expected Pie to contribute usefully if swinging freely.
Reimold, by the way, had two walks on the night, and also got his fifth home run of the year. The blast was off right-handed Josh Tomlin in the bottom of the 2nd and it gave the O's a 2-1 lead at the time. He was playing DH as Vladimir Guerrero is still missing time due to being hit by the pitch in Boston. Which, just as a reminder, did not result in any Boston pitcher or manager being suspended. Nolan needs to be the left fielder every day. There can be no more question about it. I'm actually not even sure if the O's are asking the question, "Should Pie play LF as part of a platoon?" and are simply making the statement, "Felix should play LF as part of a platoon." Whatever reasoning has guided that decision is wrong and I wish it would be stamped out.
Tomlin copied Arrieta's line in terms of earned runs, with 5 ER over 5 IP, though the O's only managed six hits (three home runs) and a walk off of him. That left a battle of the bullpens, in which Johnson took a tough loss, because he really didn't deserve to have given up a run. In the 6th, LaPorta never should have reached base, and once on base he should have been thrown out at the plate but Markakis is a shell of his former self in terms of his throwing.
Adam Jones added one of the bombs off Tomlin, number 14 on the year, which scored Markakis, who had just singled for his 1000th career hit in MLB. That's a nice milestone, and MASN helpfully informed us he got 1000 hits in fewer games than Cal Ripken Jr. or Brooks Robinson - though Markakis is older than either of those Hall of Famers were when they got their 1000th hit. Matt Wieters also sent a ball out of the park, his ninth of 2011.
However, once Cleveland's bullpen entered the game, the O's did not get another hit. Five Cleveland relievers combined for four scoreless innings pitched. Four of these guys have ERAs under 3.00. The O's have only two relievers with ERA below that number and they both pitched tonight.
Chris Perez got his 22nd save after working out of a leadoff walk to Reimold in the 9th. Pie and Robert Andino were the next two due up, and the only players available on the bench were Tatum and Blake Davis, so, that wasn't exactly threatening. After Pie's sacrifice, Davis pinch-hit and popped up to the catcher, and J.J. Hardy grounded to first to end the game.
The O's had their share of fireworks tonight, and the fans that stuck around were given another show after the game. This wasn't enough to halt the slide, though. The rotation continues to be a disaster, and poor roster construction choices leave the Orioles handcuffed in key situations at the plate and in the field.
One bright spot of the later innings was Koji Uehara, who pitched two innings of relief, throwing only 22 pitches total as he struck out three Cleveland hitters. Koji now sports a 1.93 ERA on the season.
To stop the losing streak before it reaches double digits, the O's will be looking for a good effort from Alfredo Simon, who's set to start tomorrow's game. Simon will be leaving the US after the game to face a hearing stemming from his trial in the Dominican Republic. We can only hope that's not on his mind. He'll be opposed by Cleveland's Carlos Carrasco, who's got a 4.28 ERA and averages about 6 IP per game. I guess that means a betting man would take the Indians and the over.