By Kevin Heitz
While Saturday's 15-0 thumping of the Blue Jays gave the Orioles their first four-game winning streak of the season, making the Birds the last MLB team to put together four straight in 2006, the win may not have been as important to the team as it was for the man on the mound.
Daniel Cabrera kept his pitches under control for nine innings en route to his second career complete-game shutout. With plenty of run support from the Oriole bats, including seven runs in the first inning, Cabrera (6-8) had his best outing of the season striking out 10 batters and allowing only five hits and two walks. It was his first complete game since June 25, 2004.
Cabrera has struggled with his control all season, hitting four batters and leading the American League with 83 walks and 14 wild pitches. He was demoted to Ottawa in July, but since his return has had two solid performances, both against the Blue Jays. Cabrera's ERA is 4.94 and the 26-year-old has impressed his coaches with his improvement this year.
Pitching coach Leo Mazzone is confident that Cabrera will blossom into the pitcher the Orioles envisioned when they drafted him in 2004.
"I will never give up on Cabrera, he has a great arm," Mazzone said. "Cabby has three outstanding pitches: great fastball, good breaking ball, and a very good change-up."
With his control seemingly improving, Mazzone said that Cabrera now needs to continue to refine his craft.
"He needs to know when to throw the off-speed stuff to keep hitters off balance," Mazzone said. "They sit on his fastball. He must work on location and try to fool the opposition more."
Issue 1.18: August 24, 2006