Orioles turn on power, but can't turn off Seattle Frohwirth, Olson blow leads, 3 HRs in 7-6 loss in 12

April 12, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

SEATTLE -- The Seattle Mariners may not have the best talent in the American League, but they proved yesterday that they have some staying power.

The Orioles hit their first three home runs of the season. They had save situations in the eighth and ninth innings. They were one strike away from winning. But it was the Mariners who emerged with a 7-6, extra-inning victory in the deciding game of a three-game series at the Kingdome.

Right fielder Jay Buhner lined a 2-2 palmball into center field with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the 12th inning to send the Orioles to their fourth defeat in the first five games of the season.

Mark Williamson served up the most damaging pitch, but there were several junctures in the game when the outcome could have been altered. Todd Frohwirth gave up a game-tying double in the eighth. Gregg Olson needed one more strike for his second save when Tino Martinez tied the game again in the bottom of the ninth.

"We just couldn't get that last strike," said manager Johnny Oates. "Gregg got one curveball up. Willie made some good pitches. He had plenty of stuff."

Williamson had thrown 4 2/3 innings in Friday night's game, but he looked strong when he came on to pitch the 11th. He got through his first inning with ease, but rookie infielder Fernando Vina led off the 12th with a double for his first major-league hit.

What a coincidence. Reserve outfielder Lee Tinsley had started the ninth-inning rally with a leadoff single for his first big-league hit and scored on the double by Martinez. Vina pulled a sharp ground ball into right field and streaked to second ahead of the throw from Luis Mercedes.

Omar Vizquel walked and Rich Amaral moved up both runners with a sacrifice. Williamson struck out Tinsley and intentionally hTC walked Ken Griffey before Buhner jumped on the hanging palmball to end the 4-hour and 23-minute marathon.

"I just got under it," Williamson said. "That's the pitch I wanted to throw in that situation. I have no problem with the pitch I threw -- just the location. I didn't have any room. I needed to throw it for a strike. If I had gotten it down, he probably would have swung right over it."

The Orioles had taken their biggest swings of the young season during the course of the game. Mike Devereaux sliced a two-run homer into the right-field bleachers for the first Baltimore home run of 1993 in the fifth. Chris Hoiles followed with a mammoth shot to left-center later that inning.

Brady Anderson appeared to take Frohwirth off the hook in the ninth when he joined in with a bolt to right that reached the second deck.

"That was good to see -- all three of them," Oates said, "and there are going to be more of them."

The club appears to be emerging from a week of offensive frustration, but the six-run performance wasn't enough to keep the game from going into overtime and taxing an already overworked bullpen.

Oates already had used up most of his available relief, and Williamson had gone a long way Friday night. Olson was forced (( to stay for two innings, and Oates was forced to go to Williamson in the 11th.

"That's what happens when you play 12 or 13 innings," Oates said. "Because of Mac's [Ben McDonald's] exit on Friday, our bullpen had to pitch 15 innings this weekend."

Starter Arthur Rhodes didn't figure to step right into a groove. He hadn't pitched against major-league competition since March 30, when he made his final Grapefruit League appearance. Since then, he had pitched in a minor-league camp game and thrown in a simulated game situation.

He was far from sharp, working with runners on base in four of his five innings of work, but the Mariners were not resourceful enough to take full advantage of his rocky debut. They ran themselves out of the first inning with two unsuccessful steals and came up empty in the second after putting runners at second and third with none out.

The Orioles had broken through in the top of the second against Mariners left-hander Randy Johnson, getting RBI singles from the last two position players to appear in the starting lineup. David Segui, who spelled Glenn Davis at first base for the first time this year, lined a one-out single to center to score Hoiles with the first run of the game. Mark McLemore, starting at second to give struggling Harold Reynolds a day off, followed one out later with a base hit to left to bring home Leo Gomez.

Rhodes kept the Mariners off the scoreboard until the fourth, when back-to-back, one-out walks would come back to haunt him. Designated hitter Greg Litton singled home Buhner and third baseman Mike Blowers brought home Martinez to tie the game.

"He [Rhodes] just got hurt on his breaking ball," Oates said. "He had a great fastball."

It was in the fifth that the Orioles finally started to flex some muscle. Devereaux and Hoiles went deep during a three-run rally that appeared to give Rhodes some breathing room, but Buhner answered with a two-run shot in the bottom of the inning to make it a one-run game.

Johnson worked seven innings and gave up five runs on eight hits, but got off the hook when the Mariners tied the game in the eighth.

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