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The 30-3 Game (Camden Chat’s version)

What if that game had just been a mostly unremarkable blowout loss instead?

A small scoreboard with white lights on a black background records the score of Rangers 30, Orioles 3
It stings less than it used to, but it still stings.
Photo by Lloyd Fox/Baltimore Sun/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

Inspired by Taylor Swift re-releasing her own songs as (Taylor’s version), Camden Chat writers will be spending the rest of 2023 re-releasing some Orioles game recaps and giving them better endings. What if the infamous 30-3 loss from the first game of an August 22, 2007 doubleheader against the Rangers was just another ho-hum loss from a ho-hum team?

**

For more than two months since the firing of Sam Perlozzo, Dave Trembley has worked under the interim manager tag for the Orioles. On Wednesday afternoon ahead of the team’s doubleheader with the Rangers, the team made it official that Trembley has passed through the interim tag to be formally hired by the team. It is now the Dave Trembley Era of the Orioles.

The players responded to this news by going out and getting their butts kicked in that first game, a 14-3 loss that saw a couple of the usual pitching suspects do a whole lot worse than usual. What a way to get things started for Trembley’s official tenure. Those who have not had the optimism beaten out of them by nearly a decade of consecutive losing seasons might at least take comfort that there’s another game to come later tonight. It’s not like the Rangers are good. Now 55-70 after handing out this drubbing, they’ve still got a worse record than the 58-66 Orioles.

If you can bring yourself to believe it, and even if you can’t, there were a few innings of this game where the Orioles held the lead. The O’s grabbed an early run thanks to the reliable Brian Roberts leading off the game by hitting his 37th double of the season. This was the first of three hits in the game for Roberts, who was pretty much the only Oriole with anything to show for this game. For all of this team’s problems, having a guy with a .395 on-base percentage in the leadoff spot is not among them.

Anyway, the first inning: Corey Patterson followed Roberts with a blooper down the right field line that was out of the range of everyone who gave chase. Eventually it fell in and Rangers right fielder Nelson Cruz grabbed it and fired a throw in to try to get Roberts, who had to hold in case it was caught, at third base. Cruz’s throw was errant and Roberts scored (no RBI for those scoring at home), with Patterson reaching second on the error. Two batters later, Patterson was out at home plate attempting to score on a ground ball to the pitcher. The Orioles got the one unearned run from their leadoff double and that was it.

Roberts was the start of another rally in the third inning. I like that guy. He reached scoring position with a Patterson groundout and scored as Nick Markakis ripped a double that bounced over the fence in left-center field. Markakis came home three pitches later when Miguel Tejada hit a grounder to the right side and into the outfield. With two outs, Tejada got to second base as Cruz’s throw went home to try to get Markakis. Kevin Millar struck out and that was it for that rally. The Orioles never scored again after holding this 3-0 lead.

It was up to Daniel Cabrera to protect this lead. Four years into his career, Orioles fans who are still paying attention are well acquainted with what you get from him. Just enough flashes of brilliance to tantalize people, to get them to believe something great is waiting to be revealed. And all the rest of the time he’s battling command, the platonic ideal of the tall pitcher where they say he struggles to repeat his delivery.

Give Cabrera this. He only walked one guy. He did not hit any batters and he did not throw any wild pitches. There are, unfortunately, other ways to fail, and he explored them starting in the top of the fourth inning. In the span of seven batters, six Rangers reached base. A leadoff walk started the party, of course, and after three singles, Texas had pulled within 3-2. Facing #9 hitter Ramón Vázquez, whose results match his spot in the order, Cabrera... gave up a three-run dinger. Really, dude? Yeah. The Rangers had a 5-3 lead that would be enough for them to win it there.

After five innings, Trembley was faced with his first choice as manager. What should you do with your starting pitcher, Cabrera, over 90 pitches through five innings but with the 8-9-1 spots of the Rangers order due up in the sixth? Trembley employed the common “leave him in until someone reaches base” plan - which turned out to last one batter. Texas catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia turned a 1-2 pitch into a home run, ending Cabrera’s night.

Ready to go behind Cabrera was lefty Brian Burres. He’s split time between the rotation and bullpen this year, getting bounced back to the relief corps after a bad start earlier this month. Burres had not pitched for eight days before today, and with a second game in the doubleheader still coming later, Trembley was probably hoping for a little length from his reliever.

Burres faced eleven batters, so in that sense, Trembley got some length. The only minor problem is that nine of those eleven batters reached base. It was like the Gashouse Gorillas from the Bugs Bunny baseball cartoon, walking in a line around the bases. The first guy singled, the second guy walked, and if Burres wasn’t gifted an out by Ian Kinsler deciding to bunt - a failed sacrifice, since the runner was out at third - it could have easily been worse. The bases were loaded with another single before Marlon Byrd blew the game open with a grand slam.

This was ridiculous enough already, and it got worse. Burres got a strikeout for the second out before a parade of five more singles scored another three Rangers runs. He just could not get that third out to get out of the inning, and finally Trembley had to yank him in favor of righty Rob Bell. The 30-year-old gave up one more single, scoring the 14th and final Rangers run, before getting the third out to end that inning.

Three more innings awaited. Bell has given the Orioles some length before, with three-inning outings coming three times in the last month and a half, including a 3.1 inning effort against the Jays five days ago. In desperation, they asked him to do so again. After letting that first inherited runner score, it went fine. He hasn’t been good in his career, or this year, but 3.1 innings of garbage time is not beyond him.

The Orioles got the leadoff man on in both the sixth and eighth innings but could get no closer than the 14-3 drubbing at any point. Thanks to a fun quirk in baseball’s official scoring rules, Rangers pitcher Wes Littleton, who entered for the bottom of the seventh with an 11-run lead, was awarded a save for the game since he pitched the final three innings. Starter Kason Gabbard got an easy win with his six inning, three run effort, improving his record to 6-1. Cabrera fell to 9-13 on taking the loss; his ERA, along with Burres’s, is now up over 5.

Prez lookalike Garrett Olson is lined up to start the second game of this twi-night doubleheader for the Orioles, with the Rangers sending lefty John Rheinecker to the mound. Trembley’s got to get that first win as official manager eventually, right?

**

The original Camden Chat recap of this game, before even my time on this website, is still preserved, though the comments are unfortunately lost and may never be recovered.

If you remove this game from the 2007 team statistics, the Orioles ERA drops by 0.15. The team lost nine in a row starting with the 30-3 defeat, one of two nine-game losing streaks that season.