Big inning hurts Orioles again-- Angels win, 6-4 6-run fourth helps Abbott to 1st victory

May 06, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

ANAHEIM, CALF. — ANAHEIM, Calif. -- Manager Frank Robinson watched quietly while the Baltimore Orioles struggled through a 6-4 loss to the California Angels yesterday at Anaheim Stadium.

He watched the offense let slumping Angels starter Jim Abbott off the hook in the early innings.

He watched Jeff Ballard turn a three-run lead into a three-run deficit in a six-run Angels fourth inning that featured a three-run homer by Gary Gaetti and a costly error by Bill Ripken.

He has been watching a team that has been in steady decline for a couple of weeks. He could not keep quiet any longer.

So Robinson locked the clubhouse doors after the game and gave the club a large piece of his mind, delivering 15 minutes of fire and brimstone to a team that had better heat up soon if it is to become a contender in the American League East.

"It wasn't pleasant," he said. "Something needed to be said and I said it. I'm more upset than I am angry. It's almost as if when we get behind, we're not even a threat.

"I don't think that they have given up. I hope they haven't. I haven't got the sense that they think they're beaten before they go out there, but considering the lack of production, maybe they do."

The Orioles have lost nine of their past 13 games. They have scored more than three runs only once (yesterday) in their past six attempts. The formula for failure has been simple -- no offensive continuity and not enough pitching to overcome the lack of production.

"We put some runs up against a guy who has been struggling," Robinson said. "We had opportunities and we didn't do anything after that."

Abbott gave up four runs on eight hits over 5 2/3 innings to earn his first victory in five 1991 decisions. He got help from Mark Eichhorn and Bryan Harvey, who combined to pitch 3 1/3 perfect innings of relief.

The Angels have been struggling, too, but they have bounced back from a loss in the series opener to win two in a row, each on the strength of one big inning.

Ballard (2-3) turned in a strange performance, giving up the six runs in the fourth and holding the Angels scoreless in his other six innings. Gaetti brought the Angels back from a 3-0 deficit with a three-run homer, and the Angels took advantage of Ripken's two-out fielding error to add three on an RBI single by Dick Schofield and a two-run triple by Luis Polonia.

"The way I look at it, I have got to get us out of an inning like that," Ballard said. "Even after all the things that happened, I should have been able to get out of the inning tied 3-3. It was just bad pitch selection with Gaetti. He's a first-fastball hitter, and I gave him a fastball. That's a game I have some control over. It makes me feel bad. It was pretty much my fault."

Robinson wasn't interested in pointing his finger at anyone. He doesn't have enough fingers.

"I don't do it that way," he said. "I don't want anybody to think they escape responsibility. Everybody has a part in it. There are some guys who have done their jobs, but there are so few of them, they know who they are."

Robinson had called his coaches together for a brain-storming session before yesterday's game, hoping that an exchange of ideas might bring the Orioles a change in fortune.

The result was a revamped lineup that featured slumping first baseman Randy Milligan in the cleanup spot, Dwight Evans batting second and utility player Tim Hulett as the designated hitter.

Moving Evans up made sense, since he spent a lot of games in the second spot during his final years with the Boston Red Sox. The Orioles needed someone to get things started, and Milligan has not been very productive there.

But why did Robinson move Milligan and his .179 batting average into the cleanup spot?

"Randy might be better lower in the order," Robinson said. "He might be up there [in the second spot] thinking, 'I have to do this or that in this spot,' rather than doing what's natural."

Robinson got immediate results. Evans drew a walk in the first inning, went to third on a double by Cal Ripken and scored on an RBI single by Milligan. But the promising start did not lead to any change in the disappointing course of events that has anchored the Orioles at or near the bottom of the standings for the past couple of weeks.


Orioles tonight

Site: Anaheim (Calif.) Stadium

Time: 10:35

Orioles starter: Jose Mesa (2-3, 2.87)

Angels starter: Scott Lewis (1-1, 5.24)

Radio: WBAL (1090 AM), WTOP (1500 AM)

Orioles-Angels scoring

Orioles first: Devereaux grounded out to third. Evans walked. C.Ripken doubled to left, Evans to third. Milligan singled to left, Evans scored, C.Ripken to third. Hoiles hit sacrifice fly to center, C.Ripken scored. Worthington grounded out to third. Orioles 2, Angels 0.

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