Makeshift Orioles make do, 6-3 Take Texas finale despite using only 3 spring regular

August 30, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Texas -- If the Orioles had been playing an exhibition game in Florida last March with the lineup they used yesterday, manager Johnny Oates would've heard from American League president Bobby Brown.

Of the 10 players in the starting lineup, only three -- Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux and Cal Ripken -- qualified as regulars when the Orioles opened spring training. That's two fewer than the guidelines for preseason play.

But even though several recent games bore a striking resemblance, this is not the exhibition season. So the Orioles have to answer only to themselves as they struggle to stay in the division race.

And the answer they got from the makeshift lineup Oates put together was good enough to quiet an explosive Texas lineup, giving the Orioles a 6-3 win over the Rangers and salvaging one victory in the three-game series.

"I've thought about that [the rule requiring five regulars for exhibition play] a few times lately," admitted Oates. "I told Roland [Hemond, general manager] at home last week that I was going to get a letter from Dr. Brown for not using enough regulars."

Three players in the Orioles' lineup yesterday -- pitcher Jamie Moyer, right fielder Jack Voigt and catcher Mark Parent -- opened the season with the club's Triple-A Rochester team. Mark McLemore, who played second base in place of Harold Reynolds, didn't even have a major-league contract five months ago, but has since established himself as a fixture in the Orioles' lineup.

David Segui, who didn't become the permanent first baseman )) until June, rookie Sherman Obando, making a rare start in place of Harold Baines as the designated hitter, and Tim Hulett, the replacement for the injured Leo Gomez at third base, filled out yesterday's lineup.

But if it looked unimposing on paper, the Orioles' lineup provided the right formula to halt the rampaging Rangers, who had won the past four meetings between the clubs. Moyer (10-6) once again provided a big lift, allowing five hits and two earned runs in seven-plus innings to win for the 10th time in his past 13 decisions.

The 6-foot, 170-pound left-hander has won his past three starts. Without those victories the Orioles would be thinking of holding off the sixth-place Cleveland Indians rather than clinging to the hope of rejoining the AL East race.

"Three very well-pitched games in a row," said Oates. "And they came at a time when we needed them badly."

Yesterday's win enabled the Orioles to remain 5 1/2 games behind the Toronto Blue Jays and New York Yankees, who are tied for the lead. They also gained a game on both the Detroit Tigers, whom they trail by a half-game, and the Boston Red Sox, who are tied with the Orioles for fourth place.

"The thing now is, we just have to win," said Oates. "It doesn't matter who it is or where it is -- we just have to win."

Yesterday the Orioles got balanced, if not overwhelming,

production from the lineup that might not have passed muster in March. Anderson got on base four times (two hits, two walks) and added a sacrifice fly; Ripken (23) and Parent (4) had bases-empty home runs; Hulett and Segui each had a run-scoring hit; and Voigt had a pair of singles and scored a run.

"Our pitching just couldn't hold them down," said Texas manager Kevin Kennedy. "We spotted them a run here and a run there and before you knew it, it was 5-0."

Moyer, who allowed only one hit through six innings, nursed that lead into the eighth inning.

"It's frustrating," said Kennedy. "We've seen guys like this too many times this year. We've got to have better at-bats, especially early in the game. There's no excuse for it. We can't have those type of at-bats in a pennant race."

He was referring to the fact that Moyer, who kept the Rangers off balance, continually got outs on pitches out of the strike zone, many of them early in the count.

"We were swinging at a lot of first pitches and trying to pull the ball," said designated hitter Julio Franco, who had the first two hits allowed by Moyer. "We have to make some adjustments."

After losing eight of 12 to the Rangers this season, the Orioles will be happy to let those adjustments come after they've left town.

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