Poole bails out O's, McDonald in 6-4 win

April 23, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The bases were loaded and Orioles right-hander Ben McDonald's tank was empty.

Time to ring the bullpen, no easy call to make these days.

Seventh inning. The tying run stood at second, the go-ahead run at first. Torey Lovullo dug in at the plate. Orioles left-hander Jim Poole stood on the mound.

Poole supplied perhaps the biggest bullpen out of the season and the Orioles went on to defeat the Seattle Mariners, 6-4, in the opener of a three-game series last night before 47,051 at Camden Yards.

Poole had his quick reactions to thank for the play.

Lovullo hit a line drive up the middle and Poole stabbed it with his glove. Then he stabbed the air with his fist. His five friends stationed behind the wall in left-center must have done the same.

Poole pitched a scoreless eighth and gave way to Lee Smith. He became the fastest pitcher in major-league history to reach eight saves on the same night McDonald (4-0) became the American League's first four-game winner.

"I think was important time for the entire bullpen not to fail, not just for me," Poole said. "I don't care how the out came. It could have been a broken-bat, two-run single. Instead, he hit it and I got my glove on it."

McDonald appeared ready to escape the seventh with a three-run lead when Bill Haselman grounded to shortstop Cal Ripken.

Committing his first error of 1994, Ripken bounced a throw that popped out of the heel of first baseman Rafael Palmeiro's glove.

Reggie Jefferson scored what was only the second unearned run allowed this season by the Orioles to bring the Mariners within two runs. McDonald walked Rich Amaral to load the bases and bring Orioles manager Johnny Oates out of the dugout in search of the kind of relief Poole provided.

McDonald appeared ready to give the bullpen a much-needed rest, cruising through six innings of four-hit ball. He took a 6-1 lead into the seventh, the Mariners' lone run coming on Jefferson's leadoff home run to center in the third.

McDonald allowed four runs (three earned), walked one and struck out three. He was pulled after allowing four hits and a walk in the seventh.

McDonald was not the only one who didn't last the night. Chris Sabo left the game after six innings because of back spasms.

Smith's eighth save in eight tries came in the Orioles' 15th game, two games quicker than San Diego's Mark Davis reached eight in 1989.

Smith, not the type to panic, didn't view the recent bullpen shellings behind him as a crisis situation.

"We've got some guys who have been around awhile," Smith said. "I don't think a couple of bad outings were going to put the guys over the edge or anything."

Poole hopes the 2 1/3 innings of shutout relief with which he and Smith supported McDonald can be a turning point.

"Last year I saw the exact opposite," Poole said. "We were pitching the best in the league for a while and for a month and a half we fell apart. I've got to believe the opposite is possible."

The bullpen badly needed a boost, having allowed 11 earned runs in 5 1/3 innings in losses to the California Angels the previous two nights.

The lineup that backed McDonald started with Brady Anderson, who played center field in place of injured Mike Devereaux. Anderson's productive night included his second home run, leading off the fifth.

After that, the order had a distinctly different look, featuring catcher Jeff Tackett's first start and the second starts of the season for Lonnie Smith (designated hitter), Jack Voigt (left field) and Tim Hulett (second base).

Orioles extras had combined for just three starts before last night's game, but each reserve-turned-starter played a role in at least one Orioles run.

The Orioles batted around in a four-run first inning against left-hander Dave Fleming (2-2), who took a 32-16 career record into the start. Voigt and Hulett delivered the most timely hits.

The Orioles loaded the bases with nobody out against Fleming on Anderson's single, Amaral's error on a potential double-play ball that put Jeffrey Hammonds on, and a walk to Palmeiro.

Fleming then got Cal Ripken to hit the ball on the ground and into his seventh double play.

Fleming quickly reloaded the bases, walking Lonnie Smith and hitting Chris Sabo with a pitch.

Voigt's bloop single to center scored Hammonds and Smith and gave McDonald a 3-0 cushion. Hulett's line single to right scored Sabo and put the Mariners behind, 4-0.

All four runs were unearned, thanks to Amaral's error of %o indecision. Instead of throwing to second baseman Lovullo, Amaral hesitated when he saw Anderson coming down the line and threw too late to first to get Hammonds.

The four unearned runs pushed Seattle's total to a major league-high 20, or 18 more than the Orioles have allowed.

The Mariners trimmed the lead by a run two innings later. Designated hitter Jefferson hit his second home run, sending McDonald's first pitch of the third inning into the center-field bleachers.

Fleming, pulled with one out in the sixth, was charged with allowing six runs (two earned) on five hits and three walks. The Orioles led 5-1 when Seattle manager Lou Piniella went to his bullpen, a margin that expanded when Tackett lined a run-scoring single to left with two outs in the sixth.

ORIOLES TODAY

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Opponent: Seattle Mariners

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Mariners' Roger Salkeld (0-0, 2.51 in 1993) vs. Orioles' Sid Fernandez (0-0, 0.00)

Tickets: Several hundred remain, not including 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.

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