O's streak ends with 15-1 thud Tigers blast McDonald for nine runs in 3 2/3

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

DETROIT -- There is a baseball cliche that was created especially for evenings such as the Orioles were made to endure at Tiger Stadium last night:

It only counts as one in the standings.

The Detroit Tigers hammered Ben McDonald and reliever Brad Pennington for four home runs in the first five innings on the way to a resounding 15-1 victory that put an end to the Orioles' eight-game winning streak.

How resounding was it? McDonald gave up nine runs in just 3 2/3 innings -- including a grand slam to veteran outfielder Dan Gladden.

How one-sided was it? The Tigers scored 13 runs before the sixth inning and didn't leave a runner on base until the fifth.

How frightening was it? Mark McLemore and Mike Devereaux were involved in a high-speed collision in the outfield in the second inning that conceivably could have knocked the wind out of the Orioles' division title drive.

The only thing that the Orioles felt like counting after the game was their blessings. Neither McLemore nor Devereaux was seriously hurt and the club is just 1 1/2 games out of first place.

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.

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

By the end of the second inning, it already was apparent that the law of averages had turned on McDonald and fate had turned against the Orioles.

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 on 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 trying to run down his line drive in the right-center-field gap.

It was an ugly 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 banged up his 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 last-minute fill-in Gladden was quick to exploit. He sliced a line drive over the right-field fence for his second grand slam of the year.

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 the third time he jumped ahead on the count and sliced the ball over the 325-foot 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 the Seattle Mariners at the Kingdome in his first start of the season.

It has been lonely on the road all year -- McDonald is 1-7 with a 5.72 ERA pitching anywhere but Camden Yards -- but he didn't have to feel alone last night. Pennington came on in relief and gave up back-to-back home runs to Alan Trammell and Livingstone in the fifth.

The Orioles had come into the game on something of an offensive roll. They had averaged 7.3 runs per game during the eight-game winning streak, but were no match for Doherty. The only positive statement the Orioles made at the plate was a bases-empty home run by Harold Reynolds in the fifth inning -- only his second homer of the year.

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