O's win, but run Oates ragged Rally, 4-3 win do little to appease manager as mental lapses persist

April 19, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

The usual axioms did not apply. The Orioles were not in a position to be choosy about the way in which they scored a 4-3 victory over the California Angels yesterday at Camden Yards. But manager Johnny Oates wasn't in a take-'em-anyway-you-can-get-'em frame of mind.

Nothing had changed. The club missed several opportunities and at least a couple of signs. There was another potentially disastrous base-running mistake. There were too many similarities to the ugly loss of the day before.

"I'm not going to go in there and tell them they played a great game," Oates said. "I'd lose my credibility if I told them that. I shook their hands and said, 'We won one,' but I wasn't going to say, 'Nice going.' "

Things went better, though largely by accident. The Orioles got a chance at redemption in the eighth inning and took advantage, coming from behind with two runs off reliever Julio Valera to score their third victory in the past four games.

Here's the long and short of it. Brady Anderson brought home the tying run with a bases-loaded fly ball off the fence in right field. Cal Ripken drove in the winning run with an infield nubber down the third-baseline that rolled to a stop about 75 feet from home plate.

Faced with a bases-loaded, one-out situation on Saturday, the Orioles got an apparent hit from Mike Devereaux and ran themselves right into the Baseball Bloopers Hall of Fame. This time, rookie Sherman Obando made a base-running error that cost the club a chance to score two runs when Anderson's long fly glanced off the glove of Angels outfielder Tim Salmon and hit the fence on the fly, but Ripken's soft hit brought him home and averted any further embarrassment.

The comeback came just in time to reward right-hander Mike Mussina for a solid eight-inning performance with his first victory three 1993 starts. He gave up three runs on six hits to even his record at 1-1, but had to sit through another suspenseful relief effort by stopper Gregg Olson before the decision was final.

Olson walked the leadoff batter in the ninth on four pitches, but caught a break when former teammate Rene Gonzales lined into a double play to help him record his fourth save in five attempts.

Oates was relieved to win, but he was not happy to see his tea still making the same mental errors that contributed to its unsettling 1-6 start.

"We've screamed at them, we've talked to them, we've patted them on the back and we've had discussions with guys individually," he said. "Whatever it is, I haven't done the right thing yet."

Perhaps Oates is being too hard on himself. Since he blasted the club in a post-game tirade last Tuesday night in Texas, the Orioles have won every game except Saturday's -- and they could, maybe should, have won that one. But Oates continues to question the collective mind-set of his team.

"This was a repeat of what we've done all year," he said. "We played ugly. Brady finally put the ball in play for us. I couldn't tell you what my mental state would have been if we had not won this game. We were ugly today, but I guess I'll take an ugly win over a good-looking loss."

Mussina kept things clean through the first four innings. He carried a no-hitter into the fifth before Salmon pulled a ground ball over the bag at third for a leadoff double. Damion Easley broke up the shutout one out later with a single through the middle. The Angels came from behind in the sixth on a two-run double by Chili Davis.

The Orioles' lineup flirted with an offensive explosion throughout the early innings, but could not get the best of Angels starter Mark Langston. He gave up single runs in the second inning and the fourth, but left with a 3-2 lead in spite of allowing 12 base runners in six innings.

That has been a recurrent theme for the Orioles, who ran off an 0-for-31 string with runners in scoring position during the first week of the season. Anderson broke a personal 0-for-12 string in clutch situations with his game-tying hit.

Anderson's 320-foot single probably should have been a double, but Obando did not get into the proper position to score from second when the ball sailed over Salmon's head. The Angels right fielder recovered quickly and third-base coach Mike Ferraro had to hold Obando at third. Anderson rounded first at full speed, but was able to hold up in time to avoid compounding the problem.

He was standing at third Saturday when Jeff Tackett and Chito Martinez were tagged out on either side of him to blow a big eighth-inning opportunity. This time, at least he could laugh about it afterward.

"I was just happy that I was the only guy occupying first base," Anderson said.

Still, it could have been another costly base-running mistake -- especially after Mike Devereaux grounded into a force at the plate for the second out of the inning -- but the infield hit by Ripken took the heat off, allowing Obando to savor a three-hit performance that won him another starting assignment tomorrow night against the Chicago White Sox.

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