Orioles shed new light on Blue Jays hex in win Fresh faces, fresh ending put old fears to rest, 4-1

May 10, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The first 18 wins served to validate an aggressive off-season on the free-agent market, quieted concerns about the starting rotation, and established the Orioles as a bona fide heavyweight in the rich American League East.

Still, the 19th had to feel so much better if for no other reason than what team it came against and when they took control of the game. They won it in the late innings that in past seasons so often belonged to the other side.

Carried in part by the efforts of fresh faces who have no first-hand experience in the largely one-sided rivalry, the Orioles came from behind to defeat the Toronto Blue Jays, 4-1, last night to the delight of the 47,369 who paid their way into Camden Yards.

Left-hander Sid Fernandez, thus far justifying his fat paycheck (three years, $9 million) in quite impressive fashion, earned his 100th career win by limiting the Blue Jays to four hits and one run in 7 1/3 innings. He walked six, struck out one and got by with a lively fastball and little else.

"I think I only threw one curveball for a strike all night," said Fernandez. "I got a little lucky. They played great defense behind me. You aren't going to get away with walking that many guys against a team like Toronto many times."

Lee Smith earned his 14th save and was set up by Mark Williamson and Jim Poole.

The Orioles trailed the game 1-0 heading into the sixth and scored one run in the sixth, one in the seventh and two in the eighth.

Cal Ripken and Brady Anderson drove in the tying and winning runs with sacrifice flies and the Blue Jays' bullpen pitched in to make the Orioles' two eighth-inning runs come the easy way, one forced in by a bases-loaded walk, the other by a wild pitch.

"I think this one means a lot because Toronto has done such a good job coming back against us," Poole said. "It's kind of like we finally turned the table on them."

Orioles manager Johnny Oates gave Fernandez the hook after he walked Paul Molitor with one out and no one on in the seventh. Fernandez lowered his ERA to 1.95, second best in the American League.

Oates replaced Fernandez with Williamson, a long man making a late-inning appearance for his second outing in a row. Blue Jays slugger Joe Carter had only four hits in 24 lifetime at-bats against Williamson, who made it 4-for-25 . . . barely.

Playing one day after being hit in the face by a pitch, Mike Devereaux, puffy left cheek and all, made a running catch on the warning track in right-center field to send Carter back to the bench thinking about the one that almost had enough.

"I told Devo I don't think I've ever seen him make up that much ground on a ball," Oates said. "He really tracked it well." Devereaux also scored a run.

"If you take Brady and Devo and put their averages together they don't look like much," Oates said. "But they do so much for me to win ballgames. They come up with some big hits. They go and catch every ball hit their way and the best thing they give me is heart. They give it everything they have every night."

Devereaux's catch took the crowd to one level and Poole took it to the next, striking out John Olerud to close the eighth inning.

Three slumping hitters and one steady one didn't exactly pound the ball, but they combined to chase Toronto starter Al Leiter with one out in the seventh, the Jays trailing 2-1, and runners on second and third.

Mike Mussina's fans, still steaming over his All-Star non-appearance, booed Blue Jays manager Cito Gaston as he made his way to the mound for the change.

Gaston handed the ball to right-hander Mike Timlin, who stranded both runners by retiring Devereaux on a foul popup and Rafael Palmeiro on a fly to center.

Leading off the inning, Orioles designated hitter Lonnie Smith broke an 0-for-23 slump by dumping a bloop single into right field. Smith then beat shortstop Dick Schofield's throw to second on Mark McLemore's chopper to the hole that went for a single for McLemore.

Jack Voigt, who took a .190 average into the game, dropped a perfect bunt to the right of the mound, leaving no play and loading the bases for Anderson.

Battling an 0-for-21 slump and two at-bats removed from a bases-loaded popup, Anderson delivered in the clutch, driving a ball to center that scored Smith with the go-ahead run. Voigt, a player who does the little things, moved from first to second on the play, putting the Orioles within a well-placed single of breaking open a comfortable lead. Timlin never gave them that chance.

Don't bother Fernandez and Palmeiro with talk of any hex the Blue Jays have held over the Orioles in recent years. Don't bother telling them about all those ninth-inning collapses because they can't relate. Furthermore, they don't care.

They know nothing about it. Fernandez was pitching for the New York Mets and Palmeiro was crushing baseballs for the Texas Rangers then.

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