Rangers fence in Orioles, 11-4

August 23, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

It should have been a fairly entertaining afternoon at Camden Yards yesterday. The sellout crowd of 46,469 got to see the first inside-the-park home run ever at the nearly new ballpark, and witnessed a couple of the outside-the-park variety, too.

The trouble was, none of the highlights came from the home team. The Orioles wilted under a major offensive assault by the Texas Rangers and lost, 11-4, to slip 5 1/2 games behind the first-place Toronto Blue Jays in the American League East. The loss ended a modest three-game winning streak and broke a string of nine straight home victories.

The Orioles pitching staff had managed to keep the talented Texas lineup relatively under control for the first two games of the four-game series, but three Rangers home runs sent left-hander Arthur Rhodes to his first loss since he returned from knee surgery nearly three weeks ago.

Center fielder Butch Davis, the ninth batter in the Rangers order, became the answer to an Oriole Park trivia question in the third inning when he circled the bases on a long fly ball that disappeared in the glare of the sun and then glanced off the forearm of center fielder Mike Devereaux. Davis scored the first Rangers run on what might have been a close play if the relay throw from second baseman Harold Reynolds had not hit him squarely in the head.

It was not a sound defensive play on either end, but the official scorer (Mark Jacobson) ruled it a home run -- the first inside-the-park job by a Ranger since catcher Jim Sundberg on Sept. 4, 1988.

Rhodes would give up a couple of garden-variety home runs in the fourth inning, first a leadoff shot to center by first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and then a two-run, no-doubt-about-it homer by Dean Palmer with two out.

The Rangers are known for that kind of thing. Palmeiro's home run was his 31st of the year. Palmer hit his 25th. The Orioles haven't even heard from the top home run hitter in the Texas lineup, but Juan Gonzalez (36 HR, 91 RBI) still has tonight's series finale to make his presence felt.

"They have swung the bat against us all year. . . from Opening Day," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "I thought Arthur threw some good pitches. He threw some pitches that overmatched some quality hitters, but then he'd come back on the next pitch and give them a good pitch to hit."

Rhodes had not given up more than two earned runs in any of his previous three starts, but he allowed six runs on eight hits over six innings.

"He's young and he's learning," Oates added. "You can see where he's throwing quality stuff, but consistency is the key. When he gets to the point where he can throw 120 quality pitches, it's going to be exciting to watch."

The Rangers scored their last two runs off Rhodes with three straight one-out hits in the sixth. Julio Franco reached second on a single and an error by right fielder Mark McLemore before Ivan Rodriguez delivered a run-scoring double and Palmer added an RBI single. In the seventh, Rhodes gave way to veteran Rick Sutcliffe, who made his first relief appearance since he was removed from the starting rotation on Friday.

In all, it was not an impressive display of fundamental baseball by the Orioles. McLemore allowed Franco's single to roll through his legs for only his second error as an outfielder. Shortstop Cal Ripken made an error later in the game that cost the club two runs.

In addition, another Orioles runner (Ripken) was thrown out at the plate and Harold Reynolds was picked off first base for the second straight game.

"Those are things that can be corrected," Oates said. "It's done and we just have to make sure that it doesn't happen again."

There were plenty of opportunities to get a jump on Rangers starter Kevin Brown, who gutted out a rocky 7 2/3 innings to spell a tired Texas bullpen. Brown gave up four runs on 10 hits and four walks, but could just as easily have been on the wrong end of a lopsided loss.

He pitched out of a bases-loaded situation in the first inning and was in trouble again in the second and third. The Orioles briefly took the lead on a second-inning RBI double by Brady Anderson and regained it on a run-scoring double by David Segui in the third.

Brown settled down during the middle innings, but gave up two runs in the eighth before entrusting his 10th victory to relievers Matt Whiteside and Bob Patterson.

"We were in a situation where we couldn't use [Tom] Henke today and probably not tomorrow," said Rangers manager Kevin Kennedy. "We didn't have a big bullpen. Kevin, in the early going, didn't look good. That first inning could have been disastrous."

The Orioles had picked up two games in the standings over the previous two days, but the Blue Jays defeated the Seattle Mariners yesterday to gain a game on their three closest division rivals.

The Rangers are in much the same situation as the Orioles. They also stand in third place, 5 1/2 games off the American League West lead.

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