Streaking O's put Tigers in their place Detroit still seeking first win at Yards

June 24, 1993|By Milton Kent | Milton Kent,Staff Writer

The popping sound coming from the mouths of the four Detroit Tigers waiting for a Camden Yards elevator last night were of baseballs exploding off bats as they dreamed of tonight's series finale against the Orioles and usually homer-prone starter Ben McDonald.

But, after dropping the first two games of the series with the Orioles,the Tigers' post-game bluster had little bite and barely a roar.

"A lot of teams get more aggressive against us now that we're leading the division," said Detroit third baseman Scott Livingstone. "This year is different for us because we are on top, looking down on everyone, where usually we're looking up at everyone. It's a weird situation for us."

All of a sudden, the Tigers, who have stared down from the peak of the American League East most of the season, are reduced to a peek as the Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and now the Orioles move closer and closer, with six games separating the four teams.

"I've got news for you," said Detroit manager Sparky Anderson. "I don't much care if Toronto wins or loses. I mean, New York is two [games out] and Baltimore is six. We may not have to worry about Toronto."

In the first two games of this series, the Tigers have seen their heretofore good luck go south, just the latest weird occurrence for Detroit at Camden Yards, where its record over two seasons is 0-9.

On Tuesday night, they watched a 7-1 lead earned mostly off Tiger killer Mike Mussina evaporate into a 12-9 loss, but last night's 6-2 loss may have been equally painful.

Starter Mike Moore, by all accounts, had decent stuff, or at least good enough stuff, with the kind of offensive support the Tigers are capable of providing, to win.

But two Moore mistakes in the third were enough to cost the game.

Moore, who gave up seven hits and three earned runs in 7 2/3 innings, loaded the bases with no one out and got what he called "a pitcher's dream" when Cal Ripken tapped back to the mound.

But Moore's personal luck ran out, when he threw wildly to the plate trying to force Jack Voigt. The throw sailed past catcher Mickey Tettleton. Moore compounded the error by moving slowly to the plate, as Harold Reynolds sailed in, eluding Moore's tag for the second run.

"I've never done that. There's no excuses. I just threw it away," said Moore. "I didn't anticipate him [Reynolds] coming. That's just good aggressive base running on his part."

The sting of Moore's mistakes might not have been so painful had the Tigers not failed to cash in on an opportunity in the top of the third, when with two runners on, first baseman Cecil Fielder lined a smash off Rick Sutcliffe into Reynolds' glove to end the inning and the Tigers' most meaningful threat of the night.

"He [Reynolds] was in the right spot. From time to time, you hit the ball hard and right at them," said Fielder. "Still, if the season were over today, we'd be in first, but it's not. We just have to go out and earn it."

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