Wright had been on the DL for three weeks, but he never looked comfortable on Sunday and struggled to find the strike zone with any sort of consistency. The former first-round pick threw 30 of his 61 pitches for balls and never really broke 90 mph. Wright (0-3) allowed four hits and three runs, but he also walked three of the 13 batters he faced.
When he met the media after the game, he spoke softly and in tense, staccato sound bites.
"It doesn't feel too good," Wright said. "I tried to get through it. It just felt bad and just kept getting worse."
"Whenever he has the ball -- whether he is throwing 98, like he is used to, or 88 -- he really wants to compete and do whatever he can to get that done," catcher Paul Bako said. "Today just wasn't his day. We all wish he was as healthy as he could be. Whatever he needs to do to get healthy, hopefully, it will be quicker rather than later."
The first signs of wildness surfaced early, when Wright walked the first two batters he faced. He struck out a batter after that, but allowed a two-run single to Indians catcher Victor Martinez. Wright also gave up a line-drive homer in the second inning to third baseman Casey Blake, but Wright pitched a scoreless third before calling it a day.
"I just went down after the third inning and I didn't get a real positive response out of him," said Baltimore manager Sam Perlozzo. "I figured that was enough for him. We didn't need to take any more chances at that point."
"I'm hard-headed. I always want to go back out," Wright said. "But you start hurting the team trying to do something that's not going to happen. A miracle wasn't going to happen [between innings], but you always want to go back out."
The Orioles (12-13) had gotten a scouting report on Wright's rehab start from a reliable source -- starting catcher Ramon Hernandez, who caught Wright's rehab game for Class A Frederick. Perlozzo said that Hernandez was impressed by Wright's stuff and said he'd been able to pitch normally -- down in the strike zone and with good movement.
Wright just wasn't the same guy on Sunday, which could mean he needs more time to recover.
"When your arm bothers you, you lose a little command," Perlozzo said. "It looked like he was pushing the ball. Arm speed is one of the things you look at, and I didn't think his arm speed was very good. He's just a tremendous, tremendous competitor and I feel for him."
After Wright left the game, the two sides settled into a virtual standstill. O's reliever Brian Burres threw four hitless innings to keep the score where it was, but the Orioles weren't able to solve Tribe starter Fausto Carmona. Carmona (2-1) held the O's to four hits in the first eight innings and got 18 of his 25 outs on ground balls.
"Today was a day where we just got beat," Bako said. "[Carmona] pretty much said, 'Here's the sinker, it's coming, hit it.' And we kept hitting it on the ground and at people. It was just a tough game. He was obviously on and used his sinker to his advantage."
"[Carmona] looked like he was going to be good hitting," said Jay Gibbons, who snapped an 0-for-24 skid with a hit in the ninth. "Everything was right around the plate, but when you started your swing, it had a little sink or a little cut. He did a good job. He has good stuff and he just didn't throw anything right over the plate. It was a good result for him."
Strangely enough, Carmona's reward might be a demotion once Cliff Lee comes off the disabled list later in the week. Cleveland (14-8) scored three times in the eighth inning to make it a 6-0 game, so Carmona came out for a chance at a complete game. Aubrey Huff reached him for a home run, though, and Rafael Betancourt got the last two outs.
"Losses are losses," said Perlozzo, whose team has lost six of its last seven games. "[Carmona] was about as efficient with his pitches as you could see. We just couldn't do anything."