Orioles stifled by Verlander in loss to Tigers

Orioles stifled by Verlander in loss to Tigers

Orioles stifled by Verlander in loss to Tigers
BALTIMORE -- The Orioles have never found much success against Tigers ace Justin Verlander during his career. Their problems against the big right-hander continued on Sunday.

Baltimore managed just three hits in eight innings against Verlander, as the Tigers won, 4-0, against the Orioles in the series finale before 30,439 at Camden Yards.

Offense has been a problem for the Orioles in recent weeks. They finished with only four hits, and now have scored 73 runs in their last 25 games (2.92 runs per game). In addition, the Orioles have posted three or fewer extra-base hits in 23 of the last 25 games.

And going up against Verlander on a humid afternoon didn't help matters. Verlander (10-5) was trying to bounce back after a poor performance in Tuesday's All-Star Game. He started for the American League and gave up five runs on four hits in the first inning, something that made Orioles manager Buck Showalter a bit worried.

"When he had some struggles in the All-Star Game, I wasn't too excited about it," Showalter said. "I kind of had an idea he was going to be on top of his game today. We shouldn't feel like he's picking on us. He's been doing that to a lot of hitters."

The Orioles threatened in the first and third innings. They left runners on first and second in the first, and another on second in the third.

But Verlander settled down after that, retiring 12 in a row while improving his career record versus the Orioles to 7-0.

"Just kind of knocking off a little bit of rust early," Verlander said. "I didn't feel like I was making bad pitches in the first, just a little off. I was able to settle down and throw consistent strikes. ... I feel that my breaking ball, actually, I thought I found it at the All-Star Game, to be honest with you, which is kind of funny."

Miguel Gonzalez (1-1) was making his second career start for the Orioles and often threw well. He gave up three runs on six hits in 5 2/3 innings.

"I thought Miguel was real good, all things considered," Showalter said. "I thought he built on the last good outing. I like what I see."

The biggest problem for Gonzalez -- whose name was misspelled on his jersey in the first inning before he changed into a new uniform -- came in the early innings. He gave up a homer to Austin Jackson on the game's second pitch.

He wound up with similar problems in the second. Brennan Boesch led off the second with a double, went to third on a wild pitch and scored when Jhonny Peralta followed with a single.

But Gonzalez settled down. He didn't allow another hit until the fifth, and the Tigers added a run on Alex Avila's RBI single in the sixth.

"I kept the team in the game," Gonzalez said. "That's what I'm trying to do. I felt good."

Avila's run-scoring hit caused the Orioles another problem. Second baseman Robert Andino injured his left shoulder while diving for the ball and came out of the game.

X-rays were negative, and Andino is going to have an MRI on Monday. He said after the game that the shoulder is sore, but there's no separation.

"The cut of the grass [is where] I got caught, [and my] shoulder stuck," he said. "For me, I don't think I'll go on the DL, though. It's on them [to decide]. It should be like a few days, hopefully."

Jim Thome led the Orioles on offense with a 3-for-4 effort.

One of the positives for the O's was when pitcher Steve Johnson, who was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk on Sunday, made his Major League debut in the eighth. The Baltimore native's father, Dave, also pitched for the team from 1989-91, and is a part of the Orioles' broadcast team.

Johnson walked his first two batters in the eighth before retiring the next three. He struck out Don Kelly and Jackson to close the inning, drawing a huge ovation from the hometown fans.

"Just walking off the field in the eighth inning, getting the strikeout and getting out of the jam and having the fans get behind me, that was a pretty special moment," Johnson said. "That's something I'll take with me."

Johnson gave up a solo homer to Miguel Cabrera in the ninth, but impressed Showalter. The Orioles then had to make another roster move after the game, and optioned him back to Norfolk.

Jeff Seidel is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.