O's have that rundown feeling Comedy of errors ends in 7-5 loss

April 18, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

The 1993 season has not been very pretty for the Orioles.

Yesterday it turned gruesome, when three runners were tagged out at third base in the same inning -- two on the same play.

"What we saw out there was ugly," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said after the California Angels wasted an early five-run lead, but still managed a 7-5 victory. He was talking about the game in its entirety, but one play stood out.

It was a bizarre play in the home half of the eighth inning that confused both teams -- and stunned the 63rd straight sellout crowd at Camden Yards.

The Orioles were down 6-5, but had the bases loaded with one out when Mike Devereaux hit a looping liner to center field.

That's when the Orioles' nightmare started. It ended at third base in a you-had-to-see-it-to-believe-it double play.

The Angels thought Chad Curtis made the catch on Devereaux, but third-base umpire Ted Hendry immediately ruled that the ball had hit the ground. Most of the preceding escaped the attention of Jeff Tackett, who appeared to be running from third base upon contact by Devereaux.

By the time Tackett realized Curtis might make the catch and reversed directions, Hendry had ruled the ball had dropped safely. The chain reaction that followed resembled the Jones Falls Expressway during an ice storm.

Tackett was trapped in the ensuing rundown between third and home. Chito Martinez -- who began the play a seemingly safe distanceaway at first base -- was nailed standing near third. The man in the middle was Brady Anderson, who moved from second to third, where he safely remained while his two teammates were being caught trespassing.

Angels catcher John Orton, who tagged everybody in the vicinity, made both putouts on the play. It will no doubt be repeated often on "Baseball Bloopers," but won't make the Orioles' year-end highlight film, if there is one.

As Oates said, it was an ugly sight.

"The proper way is to make a judgment [on whether or not the ball will be caught] and go halfway [between the bases]," he said. "We ran up and down the base paths like a chicken with our heads chopped off.

"We're just not playing intelligent baseball right now," said Oates, who held a loud and lengthy clubhouse meeting after a loss in Texas earlier in the week. "When you mix that with not getting clutch hitting, it can get disgusting."

There was more, much more to yesterday's game besides The Play, but everything else seemed to pale in comparison. J. T. Snow had a home run and a triple that drove in the lead run for the Angels in the top of the eighth inning. Damion Easley also homered and doubled for the winners, who got three scoreless relief innings from Joe Grahe (1-1).

For the Orioles, Leo Gomez had a three-run homer to highlight a five-run fourth inning that tied the score. Arthur Rhodes had a second ineffective start, which allowed the Angels to jump to a 5-0 lead. And rookie left-hander Brad Pennington had an impressive start to his big-league career, but ended up taking the loss.

During the course of the afternoon, the Angels found plenty of time to victimize Rhodes (four) and Todd Frohwirth (two) for six stolen bases in seven attempts, resulting in three runs. Curtis was the trailblazer, twice stealing second and third.

A walk to Jerome Walton and a stolen base set up the Angels' first run, which scored on a single by Tim Salmon in the first inning. Back-to-back home runs by Snow and Easley made it 3-0 in the second.

An inning later, the Angels were off and running again, as Curtis singled, stole two bases while Salmon was drawing a walk and scored on a sacrifice fly by Gary Gaetti. A double by Gary DiSarcina finished Rhodes in the fourth, and Orton greeted Mark Williamson with a single to make it 5-0.

The Orioles' rally in the fourth appeared to start harmlessly enough when Cal Ripken hit a checked-swing roller to Snow at first base. But California starter Chuck Finley couldn't handle the throw while covering first and the error set a big inning in motion.

Chris Hoiles walked, and Gomez lofted his first homer of the year, a towering fly that drifted into the seats in left-center.

A walk to David Segui, a single by Harold Reynolds and a walk to Tackett loaded the bases. Anderson was hit by a pitch, forcing in a run and making it 5-4. Luis Mercedes followed with a sharp one-hopper to second that Easley deftly turned into a double play, allowing the tying run to score, but effectively stifling the Orioles' chances of breaking the game open.

Williamson held the Angels in check until the sixth, when Pennington came in to face pinch hitter Luis Polonia with runners on first andthird and two outs. Polonia dribbled the first pitch to Ripken for an inning-ending force, and Pennington breezed through the seventh, striking out two. But he set himself up for the loss in the eighth.

Ex-Oriole Rene Gonzales drew a walk, and then Snow, after twice fouling off attempted sacrifice bunts, lined a 3-and-2 pitch into the gap in right-center for a triple to break the tie.

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