Orioles' 6th sense is one of frustration Brewers' 8-run 6th inning includes 2 botched pickoffs

September 21, 1992|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- If it wasn't the worst inning of the year for the Orioles, it was the ugliest.

The Milwaukee Brewers hit and ran their way to eight runs in thsixth inning yesterday -- but in this case it wasn't how many, it was how, that tormented the Orioles. They had allowed eight runs in an inning three other times this year, so the big number on the scoreboard wasn't a novelty.

But the Orioles hadn't absorbed this much damage while the balwas being thrown, or not being thrown, around the infield. "I'm sure we've had other tough innings, but considering the circumstances, I can't come up with one," manager Johnny Oates said.

The circumstances were that the Orioles had another glimmer ohope of getting back into the division championship picture, with the Toronto Blue Jays in the process of losing to the Texas Rangers. A win also would have enabled them to regain second place, which they had surrendered to the Brewers the day before.

Instead, the Orioles remained 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jayswhose magic number was reduced to nine, and the Orioles now trail Milwaukee by a game and a half.

There was no warning of the Brewers' impending romp. Craig Lefferts was cruising with a two-hitter and the Orioles had scored more than two runs in an inning for the first time in over two weeks (126 innings total).

However, before the Brewers were finished, they almost triplethe Orioles' run production. It started almost harmlessly enough, with Kevin Seitzer grounding a single to left field.

But Paul Molitor followed with a double and,after Storm Davireplaced Lefferts, Robin Yount hit a sacrifice fly, Greg Vaughn singled and Dante Bichette walked. With the score 3-2 and left-handed-hitting Darryl Hamilton pinch-hitting for John Jaha, left-hander Jim Poole replaced Davis.

Hamilton grounded a single through the right side, tying thgame and leaving runners at first and third. On two similar plays, the Orioles would prove to be vulnerable to such an offensive alignment.

As B.J. Surhoff hinted at an attempted bunt, Poole threw to firsbase, apparently picking off Hamilton. But first baseman Randy Milligan, aware that the go-ahead run was at third, chose not to risk a throw to second.

"In that situation, with two strikes, my thinking was they're tryinto steal the winning run," Milligan said . "I thought I did everything mechanically right. I wasn't going to let them steal that run -- they were going to have to earn it.

"If I could do it again, I would have thrown a pump-fake [to thirdin there and then thrown to second," Milligan said. "But I'd rather let the guy go to second base than give up the winning run."

With the Orioles playing the infield up, Surhoff dribbled grounder through the left side, making the score 4-3 -- and again putting the Brewers in their spread formation, with runners at the corners.

Having checked out the Orioles' earlier reaction, the Brewers raagain, but this time, Surhoff made no pretense about trying to steal. Instead, he chose to get himself hung up in a rundown.

Milligan threw the ball to shortstop Cal Ripken, and in a matter of seconds his previous strategy of holding the ball appeared sound. Ripken's throw trapped Hamilton off third, but he broke for the plate and scored when he was hit by the throw from Leo Gomez.

"That's a designed play," Milwaukee manager Phil Garner said after the game. "We want to get the ball into the hands of the first baseman. What we tell him [the runner on first] is don't go into a tag at second. If the first baseman throws, he gets into a rundown and we break for the plate [with the runner from third base]."

Yesterday at least, the strategy looked as good as it sounded. After the sixth inning ended, the Orioles went into the dugout on the short end of an 8-3 score. The game, and most likely the season, had gotten away from them.

Sick sixth

The lines for the Orioles pitchers in the eight-run sixth inning (No.

indicates number of batters faced):

.. .. .. ..No. ..H .. R ..BB .. SO

Lefferts ..2 .. 2 .. 2 .. 0 .. ..0

Davis .. ..3 .. 1 .. 2 .. 1 .. ..0

Poole .. ..4 .. 3 .. 3 .. 0 .. ..1

Frohwirth..3 .. 2 .. 1 .. 0 .. ..0

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