Twins bring O's back to earth with thud

INSIDE PITCH

May 16, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

All of a sudden, the Orioles' three-game sweep of the Toronto Blue Jays last week doesn't seem so important.

Other than exposing the vulnerability of the two-time defending World Series champions, it had little effect on the standings. The Orioles' lost weekend in Minneapolis negated the positive points they scored in the previous three games.

The Boston Red Sox likewise beat up on the Blue Jays after they left Baltimore. Meanwhile the Yankees continue to have their way against everybody.

The sound the American League East just heard is either a warning signal -- or a wake-up call. The Yankees have feasted on the league's weaker teams, but their current 10-game winning streak can't be taken lightly. And beginning tomorrow, their closest challengers, the Orioles and Red Sox, will try to beat up on each other for three days.

What happened to the Orioles against the Twins is typical of what has happened to many teams in the past. They come out of an important series in good shape -- then promptly go flat against a team that shouldn't be as dominant as the Twins were winning three in a row.

There's hardly reason to panic at this early stage, and it's still difficult to determine whether the Yankees are as strong as the standings indicate. But the Orioles, after riding high after their success against the Blue Jays, can't be encouraged by their showing over the weekend.

The Twins went into the series with a pitching staff that had allowed opponents to compile a .331 batting average and the Orioles' starting rotation had been as good as any in the league. Somehow those numbers got reversed.

The Orioles went into Minnesota trailing the Yankees by one game, and came home to face the Red Sox with a four-game deficit.

That rather drastic turn of events was enough to set off the alarm. The Orioles' next six games are against the Red Sox and Yankees, the teams ahead of them in the standings.

The next week should provide an indication of whether or not the wake-up call got a response.

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