Fan helps O's catch tough loss His Yankees leaning puts 6th loss in row in reach, 1-0

August 16, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- After giving up 47 runs in three successive games in Detroit, the Orioles' pitching staff rebounded quite well against the New York Yankees over the weekend.

But the bottom line was even worse than it was on the first stop of a three-city road trip that has taken on the appearance of a 10-game horror show. At least in Detroit, the Orioles salvaged a win, which was one more than they could muster at Yankee Stadium.

Yesterday, it was a questionable, but uncontested, eighth-inning home run by Don Mattingly that spoiled yet another strong performance by Ben McDonald. The homer, which was caught by a fan leaning over the right-field fence, gave the Yankees a 1-0 win and a sweep of the three-game series.

The win was the fifth in a row for the Yankees, who remained in a first-place tie with Toronto in the American League East. For the Orioles, it was the sixth straight loss, their longest losing streak // since June 8-14, 1991, and pushed them back another notch, 4 1/2 games off the pace.

McDonald (9-11), who had to escape difficulty in each of the first three innings, pitched masterfully after the fourth, but had nothing more than his third complete game to show for the effort. "Same old story, I guess," said the right-hander, who has allowed more than three earned runs only twice in his past 19 starts, but has only seven wins over that stretch.

"I struggled with everything early; it was a real scuffle," said McDonald. "But I made an adjustment about the fourth inning and got through it somehow."

The Yankees stranded six runners in the first three innings, but McDonald had retired 15 of 17 when Mattingly came to bat leading off the eighth inning. McDonald got ahead in the count with a called strike and two foul balls.

His next pitch was up and out of the strike zone, but not out of Mattingly's reach. "When he hit it, I didn't think it was going out," said McDonald. "I knew he hit it on the end of his bat, but the ball kept carrying."

As the ball carried toward the 314-foot sign in the right-field corner, McLemore drifted over and it appeared he would have a play. But just as McLemore leaped, the ball disappeared and immediately was ruled a home run by first-base umpire Jim Joyce.

"From my view, it didn't look like it went into the stands," said McDonald. "But nobody argued. I wanted to, but I didn't think it was my place. I still had three more outs to get [to finish the inning], and I didn't want to lose my composure."

In the dugout, manager Johnny Oates reacted the same way. "I couldn't see out there, and I don't have any replays like you guys [the media]," he said. "Mac didn't say anything and Devo [Mike Devereaux] didn't say anything, so I figured it was a home run."

When asked if he could have caught the ball, McLemore said: "Yes. My glove was between the ball and the wall."

He was asked why he didn't argue the call. "There was nobody to argue with," he said. "The umpire wasn't out there."

Joyce said he had no doubt about the call. "The ball was well above the fence," he said.

The fan, 16-year-old Tim McKenzie of Durham, Conn., said he wasn't sure.

"I've seen it on the replays and it was close," said McKenzie, a big Mattingly fan who wears No. 23 for his high school team. "I was watching the ball and leaning over."

He said he moved up just before the inning. "I was about 30 rows back and decided to move up," McKenzie said. "I had a feeling. It was one of those bang-bang plays."

What made the point nearly academic was that the best the Orioles could have hoped for yesterday was extra innings.

"The disturbing thing [about the loss] is that we didn't execute," said Oates. "We had a runner on second with nobody out and didn't get him to third, we didn't execute hit-and-run plays and we didn't get a bunt down with a man on first and nobody out."

The Orioles had only three hits off Scott Kamieniecki (8-4), who pitched 8 1/3 innings. Those hits were an infield grounder up the middle on which Devereaux barely beat the throw to first, a double by McLemore on a slow bouncer that barely got through the infield and a two-strike bunt single by Harold Reynolds.

"That was our best-hit ball of the day," Oates said, referring to the bunt by Reynolds. "We didn't swing the bats well at all. When you only get three hits, you're not going to win very many games."

The Yankees actually missed many more opportunities than the Orioles. They had the leadoff man on in each of the first three innings and twice had the first two batters on.

But McDonald got a couple of big strikeouts -- Matt Nokes in the second and Danny Tartabull in the third. In the second inning, when the Yankees loaded the bases with one out, McDonald got Pat Kelly to foul out and then got Wade Boggs after coming back from a 3-0 count.

Kamieniecki made the Orioles' day even more frustrating by walking six batters. But only twice was the right-hander faced with two runners, and each time double plays ended the inning.

Harold Baines walked with one out after McLemore's dribbling double leading off the fourth, the Orioles' first hit of the game. But McLemore apparently thought Cal Ripken's looper to left was going to fall in and was doubled off second when Dion James made the catch.

An inning later, Tim Hulett walked and Reynolds reached on his bunt, but Mark Parent bounced into a double play, one of seven the Yankees converted during the series.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Orioles-Yankees scoring Yankees eighth: Mattingly homered down right-field line on 0-2 count. Tartabull grounded to pitcher. O'Neill walked. O'Neill caught stealing, catcher Tackett to shortstop Ripken. Williams struck out. 1 run, 1 hit, 0 errors, 0 left on. Yankees 1, Orioles 0.

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