Red Sox batter Mesa, Orioles for 9-3 victory 10-23 home record worst in club history

June 29, 1991|By Kent Baker

Orioles today

Site: Memorial Stadium

Time: 1:15

Red Sox starter: Danny Darwin (3-4, 4.53)

Orioles starter: Roy Smith (3-1, 5.71)

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

TV: Channels 11, 9

Maybe all the remaining home games should be shifted to the yet-unnamed Inner Harbor park.

The Baltimore Orioles couldn't play much more poorly than they are in the "Season To Remember" at Memorial Stadium.

Last night, the Boston Red Sox were the latest visitor to take advantage of the 33rd Street hospitality, crunching Jose Mesa early and coasting to a 9-3 victory before 48,327, the second-largest gathering of the season.

The result left the Orioles 10-23 at home, their least productive record ever in 38 years at the park.

No one in the Orioles clubhouse had an explanation for the disparity in the home-road records, which defy all normal logic.

"I don't have an answer," said manager John Oates. "It seems like we have one of two kinds of games here. We get out of it in the beginning or lose it at the end.

"Hopefully, our time at home is coming."

The Orioles were fresh from a 5-2 road trip in which they had to win games in tough, come-from-behind fashion. That tour offered hope that they were ready to make a serious move in the standings.

But home cooking again proved distasteful.

"In 1989 it seemed we couldn't be beaten here," said Randy Milligan. "The last two years we've been awful. I think we just come home and relax too much. Normally, the crowd is behind you, but we lack that aggressive attitude.

"We go out there with the idea like we're supposed to win instead of taking it to people and beating them. We seem to lose the intensity we have on the road."

Milligan said the Orioles have rallied from huge deficits a number of times recently, but doing that regularly takes its toll.

"Somebody has a big inning on you, and it takes something out of a team. We've overcome that before," he said. "But after a while it's tough. You just have to grin and bear it."

Suspense was not an element in this game, which was unofficially over when the Red Sox erupted for six third-inning runs with a ping-ping attack and drove out Mesa.

By the seventh, when Tony Pena knocked in his second and third runs of the game with a single, the Red Sox were breezing, 8-1.

In the process, Boston had the sixth consecutive 10-plus hit game by the opposition against the Orioles pitching staff, which received an uplift the night before when Bob Milacki nearly went the distance in Cleveland.

The game started in 95-degree heat, but Harris had little to

sweat until a two-run double by Brady Anderson KO'd him in the seventh.

Jeff Gray got Cal Ripken, the league's leading hitter, on a fly ball and got the Red Sox to the ninth when Jeff Reardon took over to finish.

For the 21st time this season, the Orioles fell behind by 3-0 or more before the fourth inning. They have been outscored, 170-94, in the first three innings this season.

Mesa's struggles in the past 1 1/2 months continued despite two relatively trouble-free innings.

The right-hander who was the team's best starter for the first month is winless in his past nine starts (five losses) and has a 9.23 ERA during that period. His last victory was May 11 in Seattle.

"Jose said it best," said Oates. "He said 'Right now, everything I do turns bad.' I don't think he threw great tonight, but everything in that inning was up.

"A ground ball, three straight bloops, two walks and it's over. It's tough to keep your confidence up when you don't have a track record up here. We just have to keep working with him."

The Red Sox entered the series after being swept three games by the archrival New York Yankees and had lost four in a row and 19 of their past 31 to fall 3 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays, equaling their largest deficit of the year.

They even had a pre-game meeting that manager Joe Morgan characterized this way: "We want to be professionals. We get paid for it. Let's play that way."

So they jumped on Mesa and Todd Frohwirth for five singles, two walks and a sacrifice fly in their big uprising and took command for Harris, who returned to the rotation June 7 after a stint in the Red Sox bullpen.

"I'm getting back to starting, building up," he said. "I was waiting to see how the humidity would affect me. I didn't feel bad at all.

"My thing was to bear down with the big lead, not get lackadaisical. I had confidence in my fastball. I didn't think anything bad was going to happen with it."

The Red Sox onslaught started with a single by Luis Rivera and a single by Ellis Burks, moving Rivera to third. A hit by Jody Reed broke the scoreless tie and Wade Boggs (8-for-13 lifetime against Mesa) followed with a checked-swing single to left, making it 2-0.

Jack Clark walked on a 3-2 pitch, filling the bases and Mike Greenwell walked on a 3-1 offering to end Mesa's evening.

"He certainly wasn't a very lucky pitcher in that inning," conceded morgan. "It wasn't pretty. We haven't done that in a long time."

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