Orioles lose, 3-0, fall 5 games out Oates gets ejected as Brewers register 2nd shutout in row

September 19, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Manager Johnny Oates did everything he could to inject a little life into the suddenly sagging Orioles lineup last night, but he could not keep the club from taking another giant step backward in the American League East race.

He pulled out all the stops. He got himself ejected. He even performed an impromptu striptease behind second base during a confrontation with umpire Chuck Meriwether. The Orioles still went down quietly to the Milwaukee Brewers, 3-0 -- their second consecutive shutout loss -- and fell five games behind the Toronto Blue Jays with 14 remaining.

Oates is not the theatrical type, but he put on quite a show after he rushed onto the field to dispute a call in the seventh inning. His dirt-kicking tirade got him thrown out in a hurry, but he was far from through. He slammed his cap to the ground, then ripped off his jacket and threw it away as he dressed down Meriwether in shallow center field.

"I just went out to argue a play, that's all," he said sheepishly.

Perhaps Oates needed to blow off some steam, but there was room to wonder if the explosion was more for the benefit of his slumping club than one bewildered umpire. The Orioles were getting shut out for the second straight night by a team that is 31 games under .500. They have managed seven hits in the first two games of a series that was crucial to their survival in the AL East. But if Oates was delivering a wake-up call, somebody reached over and put the phone off the hook.

The Blue Jays had won their seventh straight game earlier in the day, so it was as close to a must-win situation as the Orioles have faced this season. They did not respond, managing just four hits over eight innings against rookie left-hander Angel Miranda to move to the brink of a disastrous three-game sweep (( at County Stadium.

Oates tried to downplay the significance of the loss, but it may have been the one that turned the division title into an impossible dream.

"My feeling hasn't changed one iota," Oates said. "Come to the ballpark and don't worry about the race. Just play hard and win as many games as you can and then wait until the end and see where you are. If you spend all you're time worrying about the race, you forget to play baseball.

"We're human beings. We know where we are. But you can't worry about how many games you're out and how many games you've got to win. You've got to relax and play and let your ability take over. The idea is to play good, hard baseball. You can't will it to happen."

Orioles starter Jamie Moyer worked six innings and gave up three runs to take the loss, ending a personal five-game winning streak that dated to Aug. 18.

This isn't quite what the Orioles had in mind when they arrived in Milwaukee. They had swept a four-game series against the Brewers at Camden Yards during their eight-game winning streak in August and needed good things to happen to stay in the AL East hunt.

Instead, they look like they are replaying the series that helped knock them out of contention at this time last season. It was a year ago last night that the Orioles went into a four-game road series against the Brewers trailing the Blue Jays by 3 1/2 games. They dropped the first three games of that series to fall 5 1/2 games back and -- for all practical purposes -- out of the race.

The similarity doesn't end there. The '92 team was in the midst of a string of 21 games in which the offense failed to score more than four runs. Nothing so chronic has befallen the batting order this year, but the Brewers' pitching staff has found the Orioles easy to deal with in the first two games of this series.

Right-hander Cal Eldred threw a three-hit shutout in the opener Friday night as the Orioles wasted an eight-inning, three-hit performance by Ben McDonald. Last night, Miranda and reliever Jesse Orosco ran the Orioles' string of scoreless innings to 22, dating to the final four innings of Wednesday night's game in Boston.

Meanwhile, Moyer pitched resourcefully, but allowed too many base runners to get by without running into some tough luck along the way.

The Brewers broke through for three runs in the third inning. B. J. Surhoff lined the ball into the left-field corner for a two-run double, and the Orioles blew a rundown to allow him to score on the continuation of the play.

Moyer wasn't exactly rocked in that inning. No. 9 hitter Jose Valentin started the rally with a bunt single and Kevin Seitzer reached base on a one-out infield hit that just as easily could have been a double-play ball. Surhoff followed with the liner past Brady Anderson in left and was hung up in a rundown between second and third. Right fielder Jack Voigt came in to back up the play and ended up throwing the ball into the Orioles' dugout to hand the Brewers the third run.

It was an ugly play, but Voigt can be forgiven for one bad throw. It was the first major-league error for the the rookie utility man, who has appeared in 54 games at this level.

Oates wasn't upset about it, but he could see the irony of the situation. Voigt made a heads-up play to be in position to receive the ball, but could not execute the throw.

"You work on a particular play in spring training until you're blue in the face and then there's just one time all year when the right fielder has to come in and cover second base," Oates said. "I looked up and he's right there -- and a rookie to boot. You say, 'All right!' and then that happens. I guess that's what happens when things are going bad."

Though Moyer had some bad fortune, he couldn't exactly curse the fates for the three runs scored by the Brewers. He gave up nine hits and allowed 12 base runners in six innings, so he probably was lucky to still be around that late.

Miranda was far more dominating. He carried a no-hitter into the fourth and worked easily into the ninth to defeat the Orioles for the first time in three career appearances against them.

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