More hurt: Orioles lose, 6-2 McDonald aggravates injury

May 29, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- Ben McDonald's streak of 80 starts is in jeopardy because of a strained right groin he aggravated during last night's 6-2 loss to the Chicago White Sox.

"From what I understand, these things take time sometimes, and you have to be real careful or they will hang around awhile and that's what we don't want," McDonald said. "It's way too early to tell now."

McDonald was taken out with two outs in the third inning after running a 2-0 count to Lance Johnson.

The White Sox put themselves in position to go for a three-game sweep of the Orioles today by defeating them last night in front of 43,589, the largest regular-season crowd in Comiskey Park history.

It was the ninth loss in 14 games for the third-place Orioles, who fell six games behind the division-leading Yankees in the American League East.

"We're not playing real well right now, but it's not nearly time to panic or anything like that," McDonald said. "We're going to be just fine."

McDonald, encouraged by his workout between starts, was convinced his groin strain was fine, but he discovered otherwise after he took the mound.

"Skipping this start was something that didn't even cross my mind," McDonald said.

McDonald's short start seem to last forever. In 2 2/3 innings, he gave up four hits and three earned runs, walked three and struck out two.

In the third inning, after McDonald struck out Joey Cora for the second out of the inning, he landed on his leg in an unusual manner. Orioles manager Johnny Oates and trainer Richie Bancells visited McDonald on the mound.

"Boz [Dick Bosman, Orioles pitching coach] and I were sitting there talking, saying it didn't look like he was favoring it, but evidently he wasn't following through because everything was up in the strike zone," Oates said.

After ball two to Johnson, catcher Chris Hoiles looked into the dugout and shook his head, and Oates removed McDonald.

Meanwhile, the Orioles didn't make hard-throwing right-hander Jason Bere (6-1, 3.34 ERA) pay for his wild ways. Bere walked six and gave up three hits in 5 2/3 innings, but the Orioles were able to turn that into only two runs. By that time, McDonald (8-3, 3.89) was receiving treatment for his muscle strain. He suffered the injury in his last start in Milwaukee.

He threw 44 of his 70 pitches last night in the third inning, an inning in which the White Sox turned three hits and three walks into three runs.

The American League Pitcher of the Month in April, McDonald has found May to be not nearly as enjoyable. In his past five starts, McDonald is 2-3 with a 6.58 ERA.

In contrast, Frank Thomas is having a May straight out of Ripley's. Thomas hit his 19th home run, to right-center, off left-handed reliever Tom Bolton in the fifth inning to increase Chicago's lead to 4-0. Thomas has homered in four consecutive games and is on a pace to hit 68 home runs. In May, Thomas is batting .467 with 11 home runs and 27 RBI.

"He's as hot as a hitter can be right now," McDonald said.

How hot? So hot the new Leo Gomez looks like the old Leo Gomez when compared with Thomas.

Gomez drove in the Orioles' runs with a two-out, two-run, bases-loaded single to center, giving him 18 RBI in his past 21 games.

It ended a 21-inning scoreless streak for the Orioles and trimmed the White Sox's lead to 4-2.

The Orioles loaded the bases for Gomez on Brady Anderson's leadoff walk, Mike Devereaux's single to right and Harold Baines' one-out walk. White Sox manager Gene Lamont replaced Bere after he walked Hoiles to reload the bases.

Left-hander Dennis Cook was brought on to face Mark McLemore, a .160 hitter from the right side. McLemore struck out.

Olmedo Saenz, wearing No. 8, last seen on a White Sox player on Bo Jackson, triggered McDonald's endless inning with a leadoff single to center in his first major-league at-bat.

After McDonald struck out Mike Lavalliere looking, Ozzie Guillen doubled off the warning track in center field, driving home nTC Saenz, who started at third base in place of Robin Ventura (back spasms).

Saenz scored the game's first run in his first game, but it wasn't the end of the scoring against McDonald, who was visited on the mound during the inning by trainer Richie Bancells and manager Johnny Oates.

McDonald walked Raines, struck out Cora and walked Thomas, loading the bases with two outs for Julio Franco.

The biggest difference between 1993 and 1994 for the White Sox is that Thomas has someone hitting behind him to make pitchers pay for shying away from the strike zone against him.

Franco, as he has consistently for the White Sox, produced in the clutch. One inning after extending his hitting streak to 11 games, Franco dumped a two-run single into center, pushing his RBI total to 51 on his 53rd hit of the season. (Franco got RBI No. 52 with a single to right in the White Sox two-run seventh.)

After McDonald walked Warren Newson and ran a 2-0 count to Johnson, Oates sent him to the trainer's room and handed the ball to Bolton, who induced a grounder to short out of Johnson. None of the eight runners Bolton has inherited has scored.

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Comiskey Park, Chicago

Time: 2:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Sid Fernandez (2-2, 4.24) vs. White Sox's Jack McDowell (2-6, 6.67)

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