First loss to test Alexi Ogando's fortitude

NEW YORK -- Scouts, coaches, teammates and front office personnel wondered how 27-year-old Alexi Ogando would handle a really rough outing.

Now they've got a chance to find out. It took 13 starts for Ogando to suffer a loss, but it happened at Yankee Stadium, a place that has not been kind to him in 2011. In two starts, Ogando has a 12.38 ERA with an 0-1 record (he has a 1.68 ERA against all the other teams). Tuesday's start was his worst of the season, allowing six runs on six hits in 1 2/3 innings in a 12-4 loss to the Yankees. At one point, Ogando allowed six of seven batters to reach base and just couldn't get that final out.

One of the key at-bats was a check-swing hit for Brett Gardner. Ogando was one out away from limiting the damage, but the hit scored the second run and then things opened up after that with Curtis Granderson's two-RBI single and Mark Teixeira's two-run double.

It was the first time all season Ogando didn't go at least six innings and just the third time he's allowed more than two runs in a start. Two of those three times have come at Yankee Stadium.

"I just didn't feel good out there," Ogando said through a translator. "When you lose yourself on the mound, it seems like there's nothing you can do."

Ogando said he couldn't command his fastball as he faced a gaggle of left-handed hitters. His plan was to pitch them inside, but he wasn't able to throw strikes on the inner portion, allowing them to wait out something over the plate.

"He didn't get a chance to throw his breaking ball or changeup much," Washington said. "He got behind in too many counts. Sometimes that happens."

It's surprising if only because of how dominant Ogando has been in 2011 as one of the game's big surprises this first half. He started the season 7-0 and came into Tuesday's game with a 2.10 ERA, the second-best in the AL. That ERA jumped to 2.71 after the short start.

Ogando, though, looked disappointed but not shaken in the clubhouse after the game. He vows to move on and be ready to pitch against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday.

"It's not going to affect me," Ogando said. "I'm not going to let it bother me."

His teammates don't expect it to impact him, either.

"After watching Ogando throw last year and then move to the starting role this year and the success he's had, nobody's going to come out and throw like he's thrown every time," first baseman Mitch Moreland said. "That's baseball. He'll bounce back and be the same Ogando that we've seen the rest of his starts. I don't think anybody's worried about him, and I don't think he is either. You've got to forget about that stuff pretty quick."

Knowing Ogando's personality, that seems like the safe bet. After his two other starts that weren't "quality starts," Ogando bounced back. He got a win against Kansas City in April after the Yankees got to him in his previous start and after allowing five runs to the Royals in late May, he went eight innings in a win over Cleveland.