For Birds, there's no place like home for losses

August 08, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

With a perfectly straight face, Orioles reliever Mike Flanagan responded to the question that has been asked in baseball since time immemorial.

"We didn't practice home games in spring training, that's why we're not winning at home now," Flanagan said.

Of course. Why didn't someone else think of that? The Orioles were officially the home team for nine spring exhibition games this year, but they were staged at five different sites because the club didn't have a field in Florida to call its own.

So without practicing home games, Flanagan points out with unassailable logic, how can the Orioles be faulted for their dreary record at Memorial Stadium this season?

Last night's 4-2 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers trimmed the Orioles' home record to 17-33 (.340). Their road winning percentage (.464, 26-30) is 124 points higher than their home mark, the biggest margin in the majors.

There is, of course, no rational explanation for the Orioles' poor record at home.

"I have no idea why," reliever Gregg Olson said. "It's just one of those things."

Manager John Oates said, "I have no answer. The fact it's our last year in this stadium has nothing to do with it. Our guys don't think about that, although they might the last weekend of the season."

Since Oates took command, the Orioles are 18-17 on the road, 12-22 at home. On the season, they've won two straight home games twice, three straight once and a season-high four once.

"I've never played for a club that did so much better on the road," said Flanagan, who's in his 15th major-league season. "If there was an explanation, it would have been fixed by now."

In his 30-plus years in baseball, batting coach Tom McCraw says he's never seen anything like it either.

"You take the worst of clubs and they'll be close to .500 at home, and get their butts kicked on the road," McCraw said. "I'm perplexed. I don't know why we're this way."

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