Doubleheaders will tax even the most formidable pitching staffs. The Baltimore Orioles don't appear to be in any position to carry that type of burden.
With their pitchers struggling mightily, the Orioles look to snap a season-high seven-game losing streak when they play two contests against the Oakland Athletics on Saturday to conclude a three-game set.
A series of injuries and poor starts have left the Orioles (63-77) desperate for fresh arms. Baltimore didn't even have a starting pitcher for Wednesday's game against Boston, forcing it to use five relievers in a 5-4 loss.
In Friday night's series opener, five Orioles pitchers combined to issue 10 walks in an 11-2 loss to the Athletics (64-77). Remarkably, Rajai Davis' grand slam was the only Oakland hit in an eight-run eighth inning.
During their skid, the Orioles have posted a 10.20 ERA and a .341 opponents batting average while walking 56 in 57 1-3 innings.
In an attempt to help its beleaguered staff, Baltimore acquired minor leaguer Brian Bass from Minnesota on Friday for a player to be named or cash. Bass didn't allow a hit against Oakland, but he gave up two runs and walked two in 1 2-3 innings.
"I don't have any magic formula, I don't have any catch phrase, I don't have any quick fix," Baltimore manager Dave Trembley said. "You have to be able to throw it over the plate. It's that simple."
Before the game, the Orioles announced that Trembley would return in 2009 even though the club has lost 11 of 12. Team president Andy MacPhail called it a "demonstration of support."
Trembley has done his best to make do with the pitchers he has, and on Saturday he will go with Garrett Olson (8-7, 6.53 ERA) and Daniel Cabrera (8-8, 5.24) as his Game 1 and 2 starters, respectively.
With Olson and Cabrera struggling, it could be a particularly long day for an already run-down Baltimore bullpen, which has pitched 13 1-3 innings in the team's last three games.
Olson is 0-2 with an 11.81 ERA in his last four starts.
The left-hander gave up six runs and six hits in 5 2-3 innings as Baltimore lost 7-4 to Boston on Monday night. He was recalled from Triple-A Norfolk to make that start, his first with the Orioles since Aug. 17 against Detroit.
Olson's first career start against Oakland came on May 5, when he allowed one run and four hits while striking out seven in 6 1-3 innings as Baltimore lost 2-1 in 10 innings.
Cabrera, meanwhile, will make his first appearance since Aug. 24, when he allowed seven runs and nine hits in 3 2-3 innings against the New York Yankees in an 8-7 Orioles loss. He had been serving his six-game suspension for throwing at the Yankees' Alex Rodriguez on July 29.
Cabrera is 1-2 with a 10.50 ERA in three career starts versus the A's, and 0-1 with a 14.63 ERA in his last two starts overall.
Greg Smith (6-14, 4.23) will be Oakland's Game 1 starter. He has posted a 10.64 ERA en route to losing his last two starts.
The rookie left-hander gave up a season-high eight runs and seven hits in five innings as Oakland lost 12-4 to Minnesota on Sunday.
Josh Outman (0-0, 0.00) will take the mound for Oakland in the nightcap, making his first major league start. He made his first appearance on Tuesday night, pitching two scoreless innings in Oakland's 5-2 loss to Kansas City.
Outman went 7-4 with a 3.11 ERA in 11 starts and 31 relief appearances in three different stops in the minors this year.
Oakland will be looking to win consecutive games for the second time since July 11. Friday's win was the first time the A's topped the six-run mark in 41 games.
"It's a nice game for us with a nice big inning, which is something that we haven't had a lot of lately," Oakland manager Bob Geren said.