Orioles balk at chance to end slide Pat Kelly doubles in 11th for sweep

May 27, 1991|By Kent Baker

In his three days as the Baltimore Orioles' new manager, Joh Oates has lost 8 pounds, three games, a pitcher to the disabled list and a pitcher to an ejection.

About the only thing he has gained is a crowd of second-guessers.

The off-field experts were running rampant after yesterday's 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the New York Yankees that completed the first three-game sweep by an opposing team at Memorial Stadium since the Seattle Mariners did it in September.

There wasn't much for Oates to do but explain why he took the bat out of red-hot Cal Ripken's hands during a potential winning rally in the 10th inning or why he didn't hit home-run threat Chris Hoiles in the 11th after the Yankees had taken the lead.

The talk shows will be buzzing for a while after this one.

But there wasn't much Oates could do about Gregg Olson's second blown save -- when Mel Hall homered on a 2-0 fastball in the ninth -- or umpire John Shulock's balk call against Mike Flanagan in the 11th that pushed winning run Bob Geren into scoring position at second base.

Pat Kelly then doubled in Geren with one out to saddle Flanagan with his second straight defeat in relief and lead to the left-hander's first ejection in 12 seasons as an Oriole.

Geren singled to lead off the 11th on an 0-2 pitch, and after Jesse Barfield fouled out on a sacrifice attempt, Flanagan was charged with his second balk in less than 24 hours.

"He [Shulock] said I was behind the rubber with my foot," Flanagan said. "I initially went over there [first base] to find out what he was calling it for.

"I told him it was not my good move; it wasn't designed to fool anybody. That move has been legal for 14 or 15 years. He yelled balk before I ever moved my leg. I can accept mistakes I make, but not mistakes like that by others."

Flanagan took his plea to home-plate umpire Drew Coble -- who had called the balk Saturday night -- but was told, " 'Let's go.' That really made me angry."

Kelly's game-winning double on a 3-1 pitch didn't improve Flanagan's mood, and he was banished from the Orioles dugout for waving a towel when the Yankees' Greg Cadaret made a similar move to first without any call being made.

"I'm sure he had his eye on me long before that," Flanagan said. "He had his chance to throw me out on the field. I had said enough."

The umpires left the park quickly to catch a flight to Milwaukee, and Shulock was not available for comment.

But the incident marked one more symbol of the Orioles' frustration, as they lost for the first time in the 13 games they were leading after eight innings.

Oates had his own problems, fielding questions about the 10th, when Mike Devereaux had led off with a single off Steve Howe and the manager had elected to sacrifice with Bill Ripken, the book move, leading to an intentional walk of Cal.

"They were not going to pitch to Cal," Oates said. "I thought the best thing was bunt him over and lose Cal because I had two pretty good hitters coming up."

So, he got a lefty-lefty matchup, with Howe retiring Joe Orsulak on a tapper and then a righty-righty matchup with John Habyan walking Dwight Evans to load the bases.

But Habyan escaped the jam by inducing Tim Hulett to fly out to center field.

Then, after the Yankees had gone ahead, he disdained Hoiles and batted light-hitting Brady Anderson against Cadaret in the 11th because "Brady had just gotten a hit off a left-hander before."

Anderson remained fixed at first base while Bob Melvin and Devereaux were retired to end another trying day. "The reason Brady didn't run [try to steal] is his leg has been bothering him," Oates said. "He wasn't 100 percent."

So, the Yankees swept three games at Baltimore for the first time in five years and the Orioles wasted another good performance by a starting pitcher, Jose Mesa, who went seven scoreless innings.

"Our pitching was good all day. You can't complain about that," Oates said. "Our first priority was to get the starters straightened out. You can't do any more than Jose and Jeff Ballard have done the last two games."

Mesa and Ballard pitched a combined 13 1/3 innings and allowed one run and 10 hits.

Oates' problem yesterday was with an offense that had runners on third with one out twice and didn't get them home.

"It's frustrating to come out with two losses. The idea is not to come close -- it's to win," Oates said. "It's encouraging that we were in both games, but it doesn't matter if you lose by one, five, six or seven."

So, the manager tightened his belt some more and hoped he regained his appetite for cookies.

"I have no urge to eat whatsoever," he said. "But I think a win would change a lot of it."

What the Orioles need now is a cupcake opponent. Maybe the youthful Cleveland Indians, next on the menu, will please their palate.

The Yankees, who were supposed to be just the right course, proved hard to swallow.

Yankees-Orioles scoring

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