Orioles losing bodies, games

May 21, 1991|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Evening Sun Staff

DETROIT -- It's hard to tell if this falls under the heading of good news or bad news, but the Orioles have reached the point where they're losing players as fast as games.

Following the latest double-digit thrashing, an 11-5 loss to the Tigers, third baseman Craig Worthington is headed for the disabled list and outfielder Dwight Evans will be sidelined for at -- least a couple of days. In addition, outfielder Mike Devereaux will miss another game while Brady Anderson and Bill Ripken are suffering from injuries deemed "playable."

Although manager Frank Robinson wouldn't commit to names, Leo Gomez is expected to join the Orioles in time for tonight's game. Gomez, who started the season as Worthington's backup, almost certainly will get at least a two-week look at third base.

"We'll have at least one [new] healthy body here tomorrow," Robinson said last night. "At least one of these guys will have to go on the disabled list. We have too many guys who are questionable and you can get hung up with these day-to-day things."

Worthington left the game last night after pulling a hamstring muscle while trying to make a play on Pete Incaviglia's infield hit in the sixth inning. His injury is considered the most serious.

Evans left last night's game with the current team injury, a slight groin muscle pull. "I did it coming out of the batter's box [on a fourth-inning single]," said the 39-year-old rightfielder. "When I felt it 'biting,' I decided it was the right thing to do. It's a question of a day or two now, or 10 days later."

Anderson has a banged up left knee, which has been bothering him for a few days, and Ripken also has a troublesome hamstring, but both reported they would be able to play tonight.

While the influx of injuries dominated the post-game discussion last night, they hardly camouflaged the latest in what is fast becoming a long list of travesties.

Bob Milacki, making his first start of the year, couldn't get out of the first inning. The righthander walked five and allowed a grand slam to Incaviglia. "I stunk," said Milacki, who said he'd like to get the ball again tonight.

"The way we're going he probably will," said Robinson, who wasn't about to say whether Milacki would get his next scheduled start. "I don't have to worry about that, we'll see. Right now he has to help us out in the bullpen."

As disastrous as Milacki's performance was, it wasn't the one that nailed another defeat to the Orioles' record. That dubious distinction was claimed by Mark Williamson.

Two days ago there was debate over whether the righthander was able to pitch (he also had a "slight" groin muscle pull). But Williamson refused to cop a plea after being hammered for five earned runs in less than two innings. He was physically able but on this night not capable.

"We hit the ball and made a good comeback, which is a good sign," said Williamson, noting the Orioles' five-run comeback from a 6-0 deficit. "Then some guy goes out and gives up five runs in an inning.

"The pitching stunk, except for [Jeff] Ballard," said Williamson. "You just can't keep going out and giving up 10-11 runs."

It was the seventh time this year the Orioles have allowed double figures. That works out to 20 percent of the 35 games that have been played. Those figures are worse even than the 1988 team that opened 0-21, and the similarities are starting to become too obvious.

"No," said Williamson, refusing to buy the comparison. "1988 was worse, because we weren't hitting. We're starting to hit the ball now.

"We just have to get some people out. I was elevating the ball over the middle of the plate -- and they didn't miss it," said Williamson. "What are the good cliches to use at a time like this?"

Robinson had already used a lot of them, but they didn't help remove the frustration. "What is it they say -- whatever can happen will happen? Well, it is happening."

And it's happening with frightening regularity.

Last night Robinson was forced to use Kevin Hickey, Z ZTC short-reliever, in the first inning. By the fourth inning he already had his setup man, Williamson, in the game. When it ended, he had Ballard, Sunday's starter, doing mop-up duty.

"I don't care how many arms you have, if your starters can't get you past the first inning you're going to be in trouble," said Robinson. "We can't keep going on this way."

That, of course, is an understatement. Robinson's options, once he decided to remove Milacki, were severely limited.

"Hickey gave me all you could expect from him [one run, 2 1/3 innings]," Robinson said. "I had Ballard, but once we got back in the game the idea was to go with Williamson, [Mike] Flanagan and [Gregg] Olson."

Flanagan, who last pitched Saturday night, was available last night, but only on a short-term basis. Unfortunately as it developed, the same was true of Milacki and Williamson. By the time Ballard arrived it was too late to salvage anything.

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