For starters, Tackett is rough around the bases

April 18, 1993|By Ken Murray | Ken Murray,Staff Writer

The most eventful day of Jeff Tackett's season began with a bevy of stolen bases, and ended with a bewildered mob of Orioles at third base.

The stolen bases were bad. The bewildered mob was worse.

Almost everything that happened to the Orioles' reserve catcher in yesterday's 7-5 loss to the California Angels was a disaster.

"I was in the [center] of everything," Tackett said. "It's just a part of the game. There's nothing to say. I wish it would happen to me all the time, action like that. I don't get a lot of action."

He got more than he bargained for when he started as catcher in place of Chris Hoiles, who became the designated hitter.

There were the stolen bases -- six in all. Four came in the first three innings with Arthur Rhodes pitching, two with Todd Frohwirth on the mound.

Tackett threw out one runner. "They were going on his [Rhodes'] first move," he said.

There was a bunt in the eighth inning, when he was attempting to sacrifice Harold Reynolds to third base. The bunt died inches from the plate, and Reynolds was called out on what seemed a late tag by the Angels' Rene Gonzales.

"The ball hit right in the dirt and stopped," Tackett said. "I should have had a better bunt than that."

Then there was the base-running gaffe that helped snuff a

promising eighth-inning rally and virtually ensured defeat. That was the play that reverberated through Camden Yards long after the game had ended. Trailing by a run, the Orioles went from a bases-loaded, one-out threat to inning-ending chaos.

Chaos began when Mike Devereaux hit a soft line drive to shallow center. Tackett, on third after his failed bunt, was running on contact. When he realized the ball might be caught, he retreated to third. By then, it was too late.

"I thought it was going to drop," he said. "Then I went back to tag up, and I look up and Brady [Anderson] is at third."

Soon to be joined by Chito Martinez, who had been at first when the play started.

Tackett, not knowing whether the ball had been caught, reversed his direction and headed home. Short of that destination, and after a brief rundown, he was tagged out by catcher John Orton.

He said he went halfway down the base line because he felt he never could have made it home after tagging up. And he said he never heard an umpire's call, although second- base umpire Ted Hendry clearly indicated there was no catch.

"You can look at it and say I basically screwed up," Tackett said, accepting blame. "If I tag up, I'm not going to go home on it. It was too shallow to go home."

Third-base coach Mike Ferraro said he yelled for Tackett to tag up when the ball was hit. Tackett said he never heard any instructions. "A base runner is on his own on a play like that," Ferraro said. "Reading the ball is what it revolves around.

"When the ball's hit on a line, he has to make a judgment. You've got to be an awfully good base runner [to read it right]. . . . It was an in-between play for a base runner. Once he committed himself, he should have just kept going."

Davey Lopes, the club's first-base coach, reinforced the idea that Tackett never could have scored by tagging up on the play.

"He's got to be halfway," Lopes said. "If the ball drops in, he's got to have a chance to score. In the worst-case scenario, there should have been a force play at the plate."

Said Angels manager Buck Rodgers: "You can't tag up on that ball. You hope it falls in. He [Tackett] made the right play."

The problem was compounded -- and the threat terminated -- when Martinez ran into an easy out with Anderson standing on third base. Martinez had been intentionally walked to load the bases.

"I was wondering what he was doing at third," Ferraro said. "I've never seen three guys at third base before."

Martinez declined to comment.

"We're struggling right now," Tackett said. "It would have been nice to have a base hit and score easily. [But] you've got to take the good with the bad. We've got to go from here."

NOWHERE TO RUN

How the Orioles ran themselves out of the eighth inning yesterday:

With the bases loaded and one out, Mike Devereaux hit a fly ball to center. The ball was trapped by the Angels' Chad Curtis.

But Jeff Tackett, the runner at third who already was halfway home, thought the ball was caught, so he headed back to third. Meanwhile, the runner on second, Brady Anderson, went to third. The runner on first, Chito Martinez, ran on the hit and kept going -- also heading for third.

The throw from Curtis was cut off by first baseman J. T. Snow, who threw to third baseman Rene Gonzales, trying to catch Tackett, who hadn't returned to the bag yet. Gonzales threw to catcher John Orton, who tagged Tackett out. By that time, Anderson was standing on third and Martinez was within about 10 feet.

K? Orton tagged Martinez out for an inning-ending double play.

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