It's never a good idea to compare sports losses to tragic events where people lost their lives. But if ever there was a good excuse to do it, today's 6-5 loss to the Red Sox would probably be as good a time as any.
The Orioles got what was their best performance of the season by a starting pitcher as Jeremy Guthrie (yeah, that guy) scattered 3 hits over 8.1 innings against one of the leagues best offenses. However, it all went for naught when Sam Perlozzo took Guthrie out after Ramon Hernandez dropped a routine pop-up. Thinking that Guthrie may have been shaken by such an error, Perlozzo turned to his overworked bullpen, the same bullpen who had been the main culprit of numerous heartbreaking losses this season, to get the final 2 outs.
What occured afterward was the sports equivalent ofthe Titanic sinking, the Pearl Harbor attacks, and 9/11 all rolled into one event for the few Oriole fans left in Baltimore and around the country, that still watch this team play on a regular basis.
Here's how it happened.
After Guthrie was prematurely removed from the game, Danys Baez came in and promptly allowed 2 hits. Sam, getting very nervous now, brought in Chris Ray, who is looking more and more like a mental midget as the season rolls along. He is quickly becoming the white version of Jorge Julio. Most of his save appearances contain more emotional roller coaster rides than a relationship with a bi-polar nymphomaniac. Case in point, they are never easy to watch. Today's example was no different.
Ray walked 3 batters, although one was intentional, but the other was a walk with the bases loaded. To Eric Hinske no less. Then, after Roberts threw out Kevin Youkilis, who represented the tying run, at the plate, Chris Ray dropped the final out to win the game at 1B when fielding the throw from Kevin Millar, which allowed 2 runners to score for the loss.
Thank you Jeremy Guthrie, but no thanks.
And so it goes with the Orioles this season. They keep finding more and more ways to lose games. At least they are coming up with some new and creative ways to lose them.
Here's what could have been had Guthrie been left in to get the final 2 outs -- a series win in Boston, against a team that has downright owned the Orioles over the last 2 years. And it would have given the O's a much needed emotional boost heading into 9 games against 2 of the worst teams in MLB, in the Blue Jays and the Nationals.
Oh yeah, they would have been back at .500 at 19-19 too.
But after a loss like today's, all bets are off.
There was no reason to think that the Orioles couldn't have gone 7-2 over the next 9 games putting them at 26-21 headed into a tough series with Oakland. But after today's loss, who knows how the Orioles will respond, if at all.
This is the kind of loss that can destroy a season.
Will the team continue to respect Sam Perlozzo, who's decisions have time and time again cost them wins? I wonder if Sam is as lost at the clubhouse buffet table as he is in the dugout. I've never seen a manager be so clueless in all aspects of the game.
When you take a step back and look at tough losses like this one, there is no one person that you can pin the blame on. Hernandez dropped the pop-up which would have made it 2 outs with the bases empty. Sam Perlozzo jumped the gun and took Guthrie out. Danys Baez gave up consecutive hits. Kevin Millar had no business fielding a ball that Brian Roberts could have easily gotten to. And Chris Ray, who looks like a boy amongst men on the mound and did the most damage.
But still, it was a team effort. Losing always is.
The blame is evenly spread around, and in a society focused on placing blame on one person, these losses are even harder to take because they often leave fans at a loss for words and no place for them to focus their frustration, except by throwing the remote control at the TV. Losing is a team effort and the Orioles are extremely good at it. They excel at it. It's almost as if they put on losing rally caps and think up new ways to impress themselves with losing a game.
If Red Sox and Yankee fans always have faith that their teams will always find a way to win a close game, Orioles fans always believe that the Orioles will find a way to lose a close game.
The funny thing is this though. Today's game wasn't close. The O's had the Red Sox dead to rights at 5-0 with 1 out in the 9th inning. Even worse teams than the Orioles win today's game. Hell, worse teams keep the shutout.
But if the O's can't even close the door on a 5-0 lead with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, how are they going to do anything?