O's streak ends with 15-1 thud McDonald is rocked, but blessings abound

August 11, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

DETROIT -- The Detroit Tigers crossed the plate so many times last night that the Orioles stopped counting, but they still had reason to count their blessings after a 15-1 loss at Tiger Stadium.

Blessing No. 1: It only counts as one game in the standings. This is a very comforting thought when the other team scores enough runs in one night to win a four-game series.

Blessing No. 2: The only casualty of the evening was the Orioles' eight-game winning streak, though there were some anxious moments after Mike Devereaux and Mark McLemore were involved in a frightening collision in the second inning.

Blessing No. 3: The game was played at old Tiger Stadium. If it had been played at Camden Yards, several of the balls hit by the Tigers would have left unsightly dents in the new ballpark.

Right-hander Ben McDonald gave up nine earned runs in 3 2/3 innings in his shortest outing since the first time he took the mound this season. He gave up two home runs, including a grand slam by outfielder Dan Gladden, on the way to his 10th loss of the year.

Reliever Brad Pennington did not fare much better, giving up back-to-back home runs in the fifth inning in another discouraging performance.

"The only good thing about tonight is that we can start thinking about tomorrow night now," said manager Johnny Oates, whose team fell into third place, 1 1/2 games behind first-place Toronto.

The potent Tigers offense has been known to do this kind of thing, but not the way they did it last night. They scored 20 runs twice in the same week in April, but their big scoring barrages usually include more production from the heart of the batting order.

This time, Gladden hit the grand slam out of the No. 2 spot and each of the last three hitters in the Tigers lineup homered to even the series at a game apiece on a night when most of the offensive production had to be considered overkill.

Detroit right-hander John Doherty worked eight innings and gave up a run on five hits to earn his 10th victory. McDonald came in on a roll and went out with a bang, suffering his 10th loss of the year in particularly discouraging style.

"It was ugly," he said. "That's about all I can say about it. When I got ahead on the count, I buried them, but when I got down 3-1 or 3-2, they killed me. That's no secret. It was one of those nights when it probably didn't matter who was pitching, they were going to swing the bat."

McDonald was coming off a pair of outstanding performances. He had given up just three hits over 7 1/3 innings to defeat Roger Clemens and the Boston Red Sox on July 31, then threw a complete game (one run, eight hits) against the Milwaukee Brewers last Thursday to get to .500 for the first time since April 30.

He appeared to have outstanding stuff again last night, striking out six batters in the first three innings, but the Tigers scored five times in the second to break the game open.

Two walks helped Detroit load the bases with one out and No. 8 hitter Scott Livingstone got credit for a three-run triple when Devereaux and McLemore collided in right-center field trying to run down his line drive in the gap.

It was a heart-stopping collision. Both outfielders were traveling at high speed when Devereaux lunged for the ball unsuccessfully and cut McLemore off at the knees. McLemore landed hard and remained on the ground long enough to send a shiver through the Orioles' division title hopes. He apparently suffered a banged-up left knee, but eventually got up and remained in the game.

McDonald's bad luck was just beginning. Moments later, he served up a towering shot to No. 9 hitter Chad Kreuter that hit the facing of the upper deck in right-center field. Six batters. Five runs.

Fast forward to the fourth. Two walks again led to a bases-loaded situation that Gladden was quick to exploit. He sliced a line drive over the right-field fence for his second grand slam of the year.

There was a time not so long ago when two home runs off McDonald would not have raised an eyebrow. He ranked among the league leaders in home runs allowed a year ago. But he had given up just two home runs over his previous 100 innings going into last night.

"Sut [Rick Sutcliffe] told me afterward, 'Maybe you just had it coming,' " McDonald said.

Gladden was not in the original starting lineup. He was inserted into the second spot in the order after second baseman Lou Whitaker was scratched with a strained right hamstring. Gladden struck out in his first two at-bats against McDonald, but jumped ahead on the count and sliced the ball over the 325 sign in the cozy right-field corner.

That was it for McDonald, who hadn't come up this short since he lasted 1 1/3 innings against Seattle at the Kingdome in his first '93 start.

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