Tapani deals O's reminder of what they missed, 5-2

May 16, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- If you can't join 'em, beat 'em.

That's what Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Tapani did to the Orioles, leading his surging team to a 5-2 victory yesterday at the Metrodome in the final leg of a three-game sweep.

The Orioles headed back to Baltimore carrying their first three-game losing streak of the season and standing farther out of first place (four games) in the American League East than at any other time this year.

Tapani, pursued in spring training by the Orioles and the Toronto Blue Jays, stayed in Minnesota. For most of the season, he had done little to make the clubs who didn't get him wish they had.

Tapani took a 2-2 record and 7.78 ERA into yesterday's start, and opponents were hitting .376 against him. He saved his best for the Orioles.

He pitched a five-hitter and faced the minimum number of hitters over the final five innings.

Tapani heard all about the spring training trade talks and did his best to block them out.

"I talked to [Twins general manager] Mr. [Andy] MacPhail about it, and he said he wasn't going to make moves early just to unload guys as long as we stayed competitive," Tapani said. "I've enjoyed pitching for the Twins."

Until recently, the Twins were not very competitive, but they have won seven of their past eight to improve to 18-19 and two games out of first in the AL Central.

They still have the worst ERA in the league, but that wasn't evident in the weekend sweep of the Orioles in which right-handers Pat Mahomes, Scott Erickson and Tapani shut them down.

Leadoff hitter Brady Anderson and No. 2 hitter Mike Devereaux combined to go 1-for-24 in the series, and the Orioles were held to eight runs in the three games.

Tapani left an impression on Devereaux, who struck out twice.

"He was getting ahead early in the count, and he hit his spots late," Devereaux said. "It seemed like he had better velocity than in the past."

Like Orioles starters Ben McDonald and Sid Fernandez before him, left-hander Jamie Moyer (1-2, 5.91) took the loss. Moyer pitched seven-plus innings and allowed five runs on seven hits and a season-high three walks (one intentional).

"Jamie didn't throw that bad today," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "Jamie probably pitched the best of the three guys we had starting this series."

Catcher Chris Hoiles said he hasn't noticed any major differences between the 1993 Moyer who went 12-9 with a 3.43 ERA and the '94 version.

"Is his stuff like it was last year?" Hoiles echoed a question. "I think it is. He just isn't having a lot of luck. I think he's throwing the ball real well, he just isn't having any luck on his side."

Moyer pitched into the eighth inning for the fifth time in seven starts. He has given up at least three earned runs in every start, and the Orioles are 2-5 with him on the mound.

Moyer didn't make it out of the third inning in his previous start, giving up six hits and three runs against Toronto in a game the Orioles came from behind to win.

Mike Oquist, who earned his first major-league victory with five innings of no-hit relief in that game, was throwing in the bullpen by the second inning yesterday and got up again in the fourth, but never came in the game.

The Twins turned a leadoff walk and three doubles -- two with two outs -- into three runs in the second. Pedro Munoz, Jeff Reboulet and Chuck Knoblauch each hit run-scoring doubles, putting Moyer and the Orioles behind 3-0.

The leadoff walk to Dave Winfield was a bad omen. Five of the seven hitters Moyer has walked unintentionally this season have scored.

"I've heard my whole life leadoff walks and two-out walks will hurt you," Moyer said. "This year, they're killing me. I'm happy my walks are down. Even though they're down, there is nothing good to look at because they are all scoring."

The Twins doubled four times in the first two innings. Only the first one, Kirby Puckett's blast high off the right-field baggie with two outs in the first, didn't harm Moyer. He stranded Puckett by retiring Shane Mack on a fly to center.

The Orioles trimmed their deficit to 3-2 in the fourth. Rafael Palmeiro started the inning with a double to right, extending his hitting streak to 18 games, the highest in the major leagues this season.

Palmeiro scored on Cal Ripken's one-out double to left and Ripken came home when Mark McLemore bounced into a force at second with the bases loaded.

The Twins wasted no time in pumping their lead back to three in the bottom of the inning, when Munoz reached on a leadoff single and Dave McCarty followed with a home run to left.

McCarty's first home run was the ninth allowed by Moyer.

"I wouldn't say it was one of my best outings," Moyer said.

It definitely was Tapani's best outing.

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