Olson lets another one get away Devereaux's error helps turn 2-1 lead into 3-2 loss in 9th

April 23, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Gregg Olson's continuing nightmare turned into a collective horror show for the Orioles last night.

The struggling reliever suffered his second blown save try and absorbed his first loss of the year as the Chicago White Sox scored twice in the ninth inning for a 3-2 victory.

Trying to preserve a 2-1 lead for Rick Sutcliffe, who pitched 7 1/3 strong innings, Olson was unable to close the door. He gave up singles to the first two hitters he faced, Robin Ventura and Bo Jackson (off the scoreboard in right), then a short wild pitch and an error by center fielder Mike Devereaux accounted for the two runs that decided the game.

When it was over, both Olson and manager Johnny Oates showed signs of obvious frustration. "We haven't had a 1-2-3 inning since I don't know when," said Oates. "We've got to do something."

Oates indicated he had some thoughts about what he might do, but refused to go into detail. "I'm thinking about some things, but nothing earth-shattering. And nothing I'm going to get into now."

He refused to speculate on the possibility of a temporary role change for Olson. "I'm not going to sit here and critique his performance," said Oates.

Olson, who has taken much of the blame for the Orioles' poorstart, offered no alibis for his performance. "I felt like I threw the ball as well as I have so far," he said. "But I made a bad pitch to Bo [a two-strike curveball] and he hit it.

"I made a good pitch to Ventura and he found a hole. The times I've blown saves are the games I've felt were the best I've thrown. I've got to find a way to get on track."

In addition to the two blown saves, Olson, who has saved all four Orioles wins, yielded an 11th-inning homer to the Texas Rangers' Doug Strange in a second-game loss that was charged to Todd Frohwirth.

In the eight games in which he has appeared, Olson has allowed the first hitters he has faced to reach base seven times -- six via hits, the other on a walk. "His location hasn't been good and neither has his timing," said pitching coach Dick Bosman.

"But I don't see lousy stuff, or anything like that out there. The first guy [Ventura] found a hole -- if he gets him out, then he can pitch a little different to the next guy [Jackson] and you don't know what might've happened."

All the Orioles know is what took place in the ninth inning. And, like so many innings before, it wasn't pretty.

Ventura started the inning by bouncing a sinking fastball just out of the reach of diving third baseman Tim Hulett. Jackson followed with a high fly ball down the right-field line that missed being foul by about as much as it missed being a home run -- about a foot.

The ball hit off the top of the scoreboard and Ventura went to third on the long single. With runners at the corners, Olson threw a low-and-inside curveball to Dan Pasqua on a 2-and-2 count. The ball appeared catchable, but bounced off the mitt of catcher Chris Hoiles, allowing pinch runner Ellis Burks to advance to second base.

On the next pitch, Pasqua hit a sinking line drive to Devereaux in medium center field. The ball appeared to tail away and glanced off Devereaux's glove. Pasqua got credit for a sacrifice fly and one run batted in while Devereaux was charged with an error that also allowed Burks to score

"I should have caught it," Devereaux said in the Orioles' subdued clubhouse. "It sank a bit when it got to me, but I should have had it."

After a sacrifice bunt, Olson prevented further scoring by getting Ozzie Guillen to fly to short right field and striking out Joey Cora. But by then, the damage had been done as Roberto Hernandez shut down the Orioles in the ninth to preserve the win for Jack McDowell (4-0).

"I've struck Bo out three times with curveballs," Olson said of the game's key hit. "But tonight I hung one and he hit it. I'm struggling. The bottom line is that we had a chance to win the game and I didn't do it."

The game started on an ominous note for the Orioles when Brady Anderson, their first hitter, was robbed of a home run. White Sox center fielder Lance Johnson

That catch was almost matched by Devereaux an inning later, when he went to the top of the fence in right-center field to take a potential two-run homer away from Pasqua.

The Orioles got a gift run in the bottom of the second on an error by Cora at second base.

Cal Ripken's double after a walk to Devereaux then gave the Orioles a 2-0 lead in the sixth inning.

Sutcliffe, who didn't allow a hit until Jackson led off the fifth with a double, carried the shutout into the eighth inning, when Ron Karkovice led off with a single. After a visit from Oates, Sutcliffe got Guillen to fly out, but gave up a single to Cora.

That brought left-hander Jim Poole out of the bullpen to face the left-handed-hitting Johnson, who promptly extended his hitting streak to 12 games by rolling a single through the middle, cutting the Orioles' lead to 2-1.

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