Yankees finish sweep, 5-2, drop Orioles 3 1/2 back

September 10, 1992|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The Orioles headed home from a wildly successful road trip a few days ago, no doubt feeling like nothing could keep them from marching right into first place in the American League East. But that was before the New York Yankees got to town.

The Yankees are one of the four also-rans in the division, but you never would have known it from their performance during their three-game visit to Camden Yards. They scored a 5-2 victory last night to sweep the three-game series and drop the Orioles 3 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays.

Right-hander Rick Sutcliffe gave up all five runs on three homers to break a personal five-game winning streak. The Orioles had won seven straight with Sutcliffe on the mound, but they ran aground again against a Yankees club that has been trouble all year.

Bad timing. The Orioles had the Blue Jays very much on the defensive less than a week ago. Now, they are the ones who must fight off a takeover bid by the third-place Milwaukee Brewers, who open a three-game series at Oriole Park tomorrow.

"For some reason, we didn't have the same intensity that we had on the trip," said Sutcliffe, who gave up seven hits in 7 2/3 innings. "I got to bed at 5:30 in the morning on Monday [after the Orioles returned from the West Coast]. We just didn't approach Monday's game the way we approached the games on the trip. That's no excuse, but I think the day off will do us some good."

Yankees rookie Bob Wickman held the Orioles to two runs on eight hits over seven innings to record his third victory without a defeat. He pitched a resourceful game, but the Orioles had plenty of opportunities to put the requisite runs on the board.

There were runners in each of Wickman's seven innings, but the Orioles hit into a pair of deflating double plays at pivotal junctures. They also had the bases loaded with one out in the bottom of the ninth and came up empty again.

The loss wasn't as disheartening as the 16-4 rout Tuesday, but it was just as damaging. Perhaps more.

The Orioles battled back within a run after third baseman Randy Velarde hit a three-run homer in the fourth inning, but Sutcliffe gave up back-to-back homers to Don Mattingly and Danny Tartabull in the eighth to loosen up a tight game. Reliever Russ Springer pitched a scoreless eighth and stopper Steve Farr survived a frightening ninth to record his 24th save of the year.

The sellout crowd of 45,149 held out hope that something special would happen when Brady Anderson walked to load the bases in the ninth, but Farr struck out Randy Milligan with a full-count curveball and got Mike Devereaux to foul out to end the game. Minutes later in Kansas City, Tom Henke shut down a ninth-inning rally by the Royals to save a 1-0 victory for David Cone and increase the Blue Jays' division lead by another game.

"We had our chances tonight," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "It was just a combination of lack of hitting, their defense and bad luck. We didn't get a break tonight."

The Orioles have come to depend on Sutcliffe to be the stabilizing influence on a sometimes volatile pitching staff, and he has been just that since he emerged from his winless July. The club entered the game with a 7-0 record in his previous seven starts, but Sutcliffe could not be expected to keep winning them all.

He gave it his best shot in the early innings, allowing just one of the first 10 batters to reach base, but the Yankees finally broke through with three runs in the fourth.

Left fielder Roberto Kelly led off the inning with a double to right-center and moved to third on a ground out to first. Sutcliffe wisely pitched around Tartabull -- he of the nine-RBI performance the night before -- and got Mel Hall to pop to short for the second out.

It looked like the Orioles were going to get off cheaply, but Velarde pulled a two-out fly ball into the second row of seats in left field to give Wickman an instant three-run lead.

Left fielder Brady Anderson tried to prevent it with another flying leap into the stands, but he misjudged his position and ran into the wall before he could get off the ground. He didn't figure to get up high enough anyway.

The Orioles came right back to load the bases in the bottom of the inning on a one-out walk to Chris Hoiles, an infield single by Joe Orsulak and a walk to Leo Gomez. But they would fall victim to a cruel turn of fortune that sent them back into the field empty-handed.

For a fleeting moment, it appeared that Mark McLemore would deliver a huge two-run single, but his shot back through the middle glanced off Wickman's foot and turned into a room-service double-play ball for shortstop Andy Stankiewicz. Instead of two runs in and runners at first and third, the Orioles had to wait another inning to get on the scoreboard.

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