Jays add injury to 6-4 insult of free-falling O's

August 01, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Brady Anderson wore an ice pack around his aching ribs after the game and Cal Ripken took a pitch off his gluteus maximus, a rare Juan Guzman bull's eye.

And they were the heroes of the day for the Orioles, defeated by the Toronto Blue Jays, 6-4, yesterday in the final game of a failure-filled homestand.

Yes, these are tough times for the local nine, a team that as recently as July 15 stood one-half game out of first place and now stands closer to fourth than first in the American League East.

The rapidly fading Orioles dropped to eight games behind the division-leading New York Yankees and watched yet another team pass them in the wild-card race.

Not only do the Orioles trail the Cleveland Indians by three games in the race for the bonus playoff spot, but they also are running a half-game behind the Kansas City Royals with 11 games left before the strike date.

The Orioles have lost nine of their past 12, and eight have come against teams with sub-.500 records.

Proving their 4-5 West Coast trip was no fluke, the Orioles went 2-5 on what could be their final homestand of more than one game in 1994.

They return to Camden Yards on Aug. 11 for one game against the Boston Red Sox before the union mercy-kills, or at least interrupts, their season, barring an unexpected labor agreement.

The Orioles' latest failure was not without its moments.

There was the standing ovation when they took the field for the fifth inning for Cal Ripken's 1,999th consecutive game played, a feat recognized on the scoreboard, the best the Orioles could do, thanks to the roof-outs in Seattle pushing No. 2,000 to the road.

Of course, that didn't make Guzman's sixth-inning pitch sting any less, a pitch that came after Guzman whizzed one behind Ripken's back.

Orioles starting and losing pitcher Ben McDonald (12-7, 4.47) had thrown a pitch to the backstop and another behind the back of Devon White during a fourth-inning at-bat.

Guzman apparently was retaliating for what McDonald said was nothing but wildness.

A warning was issued to both benches, but warnings don't eradicate memories.

"There's no doubt he was throwing at Cal in that situation," McDonald said. "If he says he wasn't, he's lying. I don't think that's something that's going to be forgotten."

A pair of eighth-inning catches won't soon be forgotten by the 47,684 paying customers who witnessed them.

Anderson denied Ed Sprague of a home run, leaping and sticking his glove over the fence. But it wasn't even the best eighth-inning catch made by a center fielder.

White, half his body hanging over the fence in left-center, made a backhanded catch to rob Leo Gomez of a home run.

"That's the first time for me," Gomez said. "I'll probably cry tonight."

Even low-key Toronto manager Cito Gaston was excited over White's catch.

"That was something I'm glad I was a witness to," Gaston said. "I've never seen anyone go that far over the wall."

Anderson followed his theft by racing into shallow center to snare Dick Schofield's popup, but Anderson's reign ended quickly.

"I'd have to give him the Gold [Glove] for the day," Anderson said of White. "I thought I had the gold, but he took it from me."

And the fence in left-center took the wind from Anderson two innings earlier.

With the Blue Jays leading 4-1, John Olerud led off the inning by hitting a fly ball to left-center. Anderson made a running catch on the warning track, but the ball popped out of his glove as he slammed into the fence. He dropped the ball again and again trying to pick it up, and Olerud made it home, credited with a triple as Anderson picked up an error for allowing the runner to travel the final 90 feet.

"I turned into a soccer player there trying to pick it up," Anderson said. "How many times did I kick it, about six?" Anderson stayed on the ground for a few minutes after the play, contemplating the afterlife.

"When you get the wind knocked out of you, you realize it happens every day to a football player and they always come out of it," Anderson said. "But when it's you, you think it's going to be the one time someone doesn't make it."

Anderson lived to see Armando Benitez wow the masses for the second time in as many major-league appearances.

Benitez, 21, struck out the side -- Joe Carter, Olerud and Mike Huff -- in order in the seventh and totaled six strikeouts in 3 2/3 innings.

The hard-throwing right-hander from the Dominican Republic has nine strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings and has allowed three hits, three walks and no runs.

While Benitez was blowing away hitter after hitter, pitching coach Dick Bosman repeatedly told Orioles manager Johnny Oates, "We better get him out of there."

And Oates consistently responded, "One more batter. Just one more batter."

After the game, Oates acknowledged, "He threw almost twice as many pitches [74] as he had all year."

And McDonald threw what easily was his worst of six July starts.

He allowed nine hits, three walks and six earned runs in five-plus innings. Olerud's 10th homer, a two-run shot, highlighted a four-run second inning.

Oates yanked McDonald in the sixth after he allowed a single to Huff with none out and one run in.

Benitez walked two and hit a batter in the inning, but the run that scored when White bounced into a force was charged to McDonald.

The latest loss left McDonald rooting for a short strike.

"If the strike goes two or three weeks, it's going to be almost impossible to catch the Yankees," McDonald said.

The Orioles face the Yankees for three games at the end of a 10-game journey that begins tonight in Minneapolis.

"This road trip is going to be real important for us with the probability of a strike," Anderson said. "We didn't pick a good time to go into a slump."

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Minnesota Twins

Site: Metrodome, Minneapolis

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Arthur Rhodes (1-5, 8.83) vs. Twins' Pat Mahomes (8-4, 5.06)

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