July 21, 2008
By David Driver
For the Tidings, used with permission
BALTIMORE — Jeremy Guthrie wiped the perspiration from his lip with his glove, handed the baseball to manager Dave Trembley and walked slowly to the Orioles dugout.
On a humid night in downtown Baltimore, the Ashland High graduate and right-handed starter for the Orioles was taken out of the game after allowing two singles to start the top of the seventh.
Maybe it was the long layoff for Guthrie, who had not pitched since July 10 due to the All-Star break. Maybe it was the heat, which registered 92 degrees at game time. Or maybe it was revitalized Tigers, who entered the game with 12 wins in 20 outings.
Whatever the reason Guthrie, the Roseburg native, allowed a season-high 12 hits and four runs here on Friday. But in a reversal of his season, he won his sixth game 7-4 with some rare run support, including four homers, against Detroit.
"It is always difficult," Guthrie said of the All-Star layoff. "I don't enjoy the break. I enjoy the everyday rhythm. Pitchers really don't get an All-Star break. It throws your timing off. It is nice to come back and get a win in yo ur first game back."
Guthrie, in his first career start against Detroit, entered Friday with a record of 5-7 and an ERA of 3.49 this season. He allowed two walks with five strikeouts and threw 96 pitches on a night Luke Scott of the Orioles hit two homers.
Said Trembley: "Guthrie pitched real tough. He got some big outs. That is a big game for us to win."
The Orioles took a 5-4 lead in the sixth, when Melvin Mora hit a two-run homer that glanced off the top of the foul pole in left field. That is the kind of luck Guthrie did not get in the first half of the season.
"We finally had a ball bounce our way," said Trembley, a veteran minor league manager who said he had never seen a ball hit the top of a foul pole.
"I was just hoping it would be fair. That was clutch hitting by Mora, and of course Scott," Guthrie said.
Lefty Luke Scott hit a two-run homer, his second of the game, in the eighth to account for the final margin. "I can't hit left-handers if I don't get a chance to hit them," said Scott, whose second homer came against lefty Bobby Seay.
Guthrie entered the game with 14 quality starts in his first 20 outings this season. The Orioles have scored just 10 runs in his seven losses. He entered the All-Star break with 14 quality starts, which tied for the Major League lead.
"I felt it was much better than my numbers," Guthrie said of Friday's outing.
After retiring the side in order in the first, Guthrie allowed at least two hits in each of the next three innings and at least one in the fifth, sixth and seventh.
Baltimore took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first as Adam Jones, who reached on a two-base error, scored on a double to left by Nick Markakis.
The Tigers took a 2-1 lead in the top of the second when Ivan Rodriguez hit a two-run homer to left off Guthrie. His fifth homer of the year scored Magglio Ordonez, who led off the inning with a double. The homer was the 16th allowed this season by Guthrie, who is now tied for fifth in the league in that category.
Scott of the Orioles tied the game at 2 with a solo homer in the second.
Guthrie helped himself with two nice fielding plays in the third. With runners on first and second and no outs, Placido Polanco place a bunt down the third-base line. Guthrie fielded the ball and threw to third baseman Mora to retire Tiger runner Brandon Inge.
After Matt Joyce singled to load the bases with one out, Guthrie escaped damage when he began a rare 1-2-3 double play on a ball hit by Ordonez to get out of the third inning.
"He was barely out of the box when I got the ball," said Guthrie, who threw a slider to the Detroit cleanup hitter.
"What he did was he helped himself by fielding his position," Trembley said of Guthrie. "He is a20lot better pitcher than his record. He won't beat himself. He keeps attacking. Guthrie, he will compete. There is no doubt about that."
Aubrey Huff then homered in the last of the third to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead against Detroit starter Armando Galarraga.
The Tigers tied the game at 3 off Guthrie in the top of the fourth as Inge, the No. 9 hitter, drove in a run with a grounder with the bases full. Detroit took a 4-3 lead as Curtis Granderson hit a bloop single to left to score Rodriguez.
The Orioles escaped more damage as third baseman Mora, after bobbling a grounder, threw out Polanco to end the inning.
Guthrie had never started against the Tigers before Friday. He appeared in relief three times against Detroit (twice with the Orioles and once with Cleveland) and had an ERA of 3.86 in seven innings.
Notes: Guthrie entered the game with 129 innings pitched, tied for third in the league His night ERA before the game was 3.32 and that was ranked 10th in the league Hall of Famer Al Kaline, a former Tiger outfielder and Baltimore native, attended the game Guthrie fanned Marcus Thames in his first three at bats"¦The Orioles entered Friday with nine straight losses in one-run games All-star closer George Sherrill pitched the ninth for the Orioles Guthrie said he stayed in Maryland during the All-Star break.