Sutcliffe rocked, Orioles rolled by White Sox, 12-5 McLemore error aids six-run first

July 09, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

It was billed as Day One of All-Star Week, and the Chicago White Sox held up their end of the billing.

Unfortunately for the home folks, the same could not be said for the Orioles, who spent a couple of hours giving the appearance of being at a Little League tryout.

On a night when nothing went right, especially their latest defensive experiment, the Orioles were soundly beaten in every phase of the game, and the White Sox pounded Rick Sutcliffe en route to a 12-5 victory.

Mark McLemore, playing third base in the big leagues for the first time since 1990, made a costly error on his only chance of the game, and the White Sox were ahead by a touchdown before the Orioles came to bat for the first time.

Had the 10-run rule been in effect, they would've called this one after three innings. Home runs by Bo Jackson (off Sutcliffe) and Ellis Burks and Ron Karkovice (both off Alan Mills) gave the White Sox a 10-0 lead.

Things did improve marginally thereafter as the Orioles managed to halve the deficit. But, given the White Sox's huge advantage, it was too little, too late.

If there was a clear message delivered during the rout it was that the All-Star break appears to be arriving at a good time for Sutcliffe. The veteran right-hander has been roughed up in his last three starts, leaving his position at the top of the rotation in jeopardy.

In the three games he has allowed 19 hits and 15 earned runs in 10 2/3 innings (a 12.66 ERA). Despite an 8-4 record, Sutcliffe's ERA has climbed steadily to a staggering 5.27. He has allowed an equally staggering 185 base runners (127 hits, 55 walks, three hit batters) in 107 2/3 innings.

"It can't get a whole lot worse than that," said Sutcliffe. "We all go through ruts at one time or another, and it seems like the last three starts have had a lot in common.

"I feel OK, but this probably is a good time for the [All-Star] break as far as I'm concerned. We [he and pitching coach Dick Bosman] have done so much work in the bullpen and looked at so many videotapes -- I can't imagine anything we haven't tried.

"Maybe just getting away from everything for a couple of days is what I need. I've had an inner-ear infection for the last four or five days, but I can't put the blame on that. If it was that bad, I wouldn't have gone out there."

Sutcliffe has been the Orioles' Opening Day pitcher each of the last two years, and last season he also started the first game after the All-Star break. But, even if Mike Mussina pitches in Tuesday night's All-Star Game as expected, it's unlikely that Sutcliffe would open the second half of this season.

Last night was not the best time to address the issue, but manager Johnny Oates had said he didn't like what he saw in Sutcliffe's previous performance and he didn't see anything encouraging this time either. But neither did he seem overly concerned.

"If we could've turned the double play [on McLemore's error in the first], who knows what might have happened?" he said. "But other than that, Sut didn't make a lot of good pitches.

"The bottom line is he hasn't pitched well against that team. They are averaging .330 against him. He'll be all right. Sut bends, but hedoesn't break.

"I'll wait and see how much Mike [Mussina] pitches in the All-Star Game before deciding about the rotation. A lot will depend on what the statistics say about Minnesota."

Admittedly Sutcliffe got a bad break in the first when the grounder went through McLemore for a two-base error. But the six runs the White Sox subsequently scored can't all be blamed on that.

McLemore, switched from right field to make room for Brady Anderson and keep Jeffrey Hammonds in the lineup, was playing only his 10th big-league game at third base. Tim Raines was on first with one out when Frank Thomas laced a sharp two-hop grounder that skipped through McLemore's legs.

With runners on second and third, Sutcliffe pitched around Robin Ventura, walking the White Sox cleanup hitter to load the bases. But Burks followed with a two-run single to right field and Jackson followed with a towering fly that carried just over the right-center-field fence.

A single by Lance Johnson and a double by Ozzie Guillen finished Sutcliffe and left the Orioles in a 6-0 hole after the first half inning.

An inning later Burks reached Mills for a three-run homer, giving him five RBI in two innings. The early explosion allowed Jason Bere (4-3) to hang around long enough for the win, although he gave up seven hits and all of the Orioles' runs in five innings plus three batters.

The Orioles were able to make it respectable in the middle innings, scoring three times in the fourth inning and twice in the sixth -- and came within a few feet of making the game close in the seventh.

But twice, on drives by Harold Baines and Chris Hoiles, Raines leaped high against the left-field fence to take away potential extra-base hits.

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