Smith, Orioles let one get away

May 31, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

For openers, last night's game between the Orioles and Detroit Tigers was an entertaining spectacle. For closers and their successors, however, it wasn't a pretty picture.

At one point only three outs away from being shut out, the Tigers finally prevailed by scoring two times in the 11th inning for a 5-3 victory.

Lee Smith set the tone for the late-inning nightmares by blowing a save for only the second time in 22 opportunities when he gave up a tying two-run homer to Tony Phillips in the ninth inning.

Then, the Tigers' Mike Henneman flirted with defeat when the Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the bottom half of the inning. He averted disaster by striking out Tim Hulett and watching Kirk Gibson run down Brady Anderson's drive to deep center field.

Ex-Oriole Mickey Tettleton greeted Tom Bolton, Smith's 10th-inning replacement, with his eighth homer of the year, to give the Tigers a 3-2 lead. It lasted only until Kurt Knudsen faced his second batter since being recalled earlier in the day from Triple-A Toledo.

Rafael Palmeiro's 11th homer over the right-field scoreboard re-tied the game, but that advantage was also short-lived. A single by Chris Gomez, his third of the night, and a double by dTC Travis Fryman made it 4-3 and another single by Chad Kreuter provided an insurance run. Bolton (0-1) was charged with the loss, with Knudsen emerging with a somewhat tainted win and Joe Boever, who worked the 11th inning, getting his first save.

Before the late-inning dramatics scattered a record Camden Yards crowd of 47,851, Jamie Moyer, Mark Williamson and Alan Mills had performed an escape act for most of the evening.

For his second straight start, Moyer had to overcome an early and rare lapse of control to survive the early innings. Once he recovered, the crafty left-hander went on to space seven hits over 6 2/3 innings before entrusting a two-run lead to the bullpen brigade.

The Orioles scored both of their runs in the fifth inning, on an RBI single by Mark McLemore and a sacrifice fly by Tim Hulett. That was almost, but not quite, enough to give them their first win ever over John Doherty.

When Smith walked pinch hitter Lou Whitaker before giving up the home run to Phillips, Doherty's 4-0 lifetime record against the Orioles was preserved.

Moyer began the game in much the same fashion as his most recent start in Milwaukee last Wednesday, when he went eight innings in a 6-3 win. In that game, Moyer started by issuing walks to the first two batters before a double play got him out of trouble.

Last night Moyer failed to throw a first-pitch strike to any of the initial six hitters he faced. Phillips drew a walk to open the first inning and went to second when Chris Gomez lined a single on a 2-and-0 pitch.

Moyer got behind Travis Fryman, 2-and-0, then 3-and-1, before striking him out on a 3-and-2 changeup. After taking one pitch for a ball, Cecil Fielder went to a 2-and-2 count before fouling out to first baseman Rafael Palmeiro.

Alan Trammell was next and he quickly found himself on the hitter's end of a 2-and-0 count. Once again Moyer squirmed out of a difficult situation, striking out Trammell on another full-count changeup.

An inning later, Moyer's control returned and he settled into an efficient groove.

While the Tigers had trouble solving Moyer in the early innings, the Orioles were having no more luck against Doherty. The Tigers turned a pair of double plays in the first two innings on ground balls by Palmeiro and Cal Ripken and Doherty faced only 13 batters, one over the minimum, through four innings.

But Ripken led off the fifth with a single to left-center field and went to second as Leo Gomez was retired on a spinning bouncer to second base. Ripken had to hold his ground and stopped at third when Chris Hoiles grounded a single just out of Trammell's reach at shortstop, but Mark McLemore drilled a single to right to score the game's first run.

Hoiles went to third on the play and scored on Tim Hulett's sacrifice fly, which advanced McLemore to second. Brady Anderson, who had extended his hitting streak to 12 games with a first-inning single, was then given an intentional walk and Mike Devereaux accepted an unintentional one to load the bases before Doherty got Palmeiro on a grounder to end the inning.

The Tigers threatened Moyer in the sixth, but Fielder's speed deficiency probably cost them a run. The big first baseman was held to a single when Anderson quickly fielded his drive along the left-field line.

Trammell followed with another shot to the same area, and Fielder couldn't advance beyond second base. Mickey Tettleton's slow bouncer to Ripken was turned into a force at second and Daniel Bautista's sharp one-hopper to the shortstop became an inning-ending double play.

When the Tigers made menacing gestures again in the seventh, Oates made his first move to the bullpen. With two outs, Phillips grounded a single to left and Chris Gomez drew a walk, bringing Fryman to the plate with the potential go-ahead run.

Fryman had struck out twice and walked, but Oates didn't want to risk giving him a fourth look at Moyer. Williamson was summoned and Fryman lined to McLemore in right field to end the inning.

The parade from the bullpen continued in the eighth after Trammell lined a one-out double down the right-field line. Right-hander Alan Mills came on and got Mickey Tettleon to look at a third strike, but walked pinch hitter Kirk Gibson.

Junior Felix gave the audience a few anxious seconds when he lifted a long opposite-field fly ball down the left-field line. But after a long run, Anderson made a fine catch.

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