Brewers go back in time to clock Orioles, 5-3

August 05, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MILWAUKEE -- Nobody ever thought the Orioles would want to turn back the clock to April 1988, but for one night at least, dTC they would have embraced that scenario.

April 29, 1988, to be exact.

That was the date of Mark Williamson's first and only win as a starting pitcher. It ended the worst string of season-opening futility in baseball history, the 0-21 start the Orioles slogged through six seasons ago.

Things aren't nearly as bad for the Orioles now as then, but they could have used another win from Williamson last night. They didn't get one, losing, 5-3, to the Milwaukee Brewers before 30,150 on "Turn Back the Clock Night" at County Stadium.

The only smiling Oriole last night was the one on the cap.

The Orioles and Brewers wore uniforms from the early 1970s, and they played baseball 1994 style, with labor strife talk filling the air. Is it early August or late September? Nobody's really sure.

It was not April 29, 1988.

But the Orioles are almost as far out of first place as they were then.

One-half game behind the New York Yankees on July 14, the Orioles stand 10 games out of first place, and are in third place in the wild-card race, four games behind the Cleveland Indians and 2 1/2 games behind the Kansas City Royals, winners of 13 in a row.

That's nine games longer than the Orioles' longest winning streak.

Are you sitting down?

OK.

The Orioles are as close to last place in the American League East as they are to first.

"We've never really been hot like the Yankees are now, like Kansas City is now," Williamson said. "There is like an aura in the clubhouse when you're on a winning streak. Down a run late, no problem, we'll still win it. We haven't really had that feeling."

The Orioles put two runners on with one out in the ninth and had their two top RBI men coming up. Rafael Palmeiro popped to shallow left and Cal Ripken hit a checked-swing grounder to second, giving right-hander Mike Fetters his 17th save.

When Williamson last won as a starter, Johnny Oates was en route to winning International League Manager of the Year honors. Now, he's fighting long odds to keep his job.

Making his second start of the season and 15th of his career, Williamson ate innings for the Orioles. But still seeks his second career win as a starter.

Williamson (3-1, 4.01), threw 103 pitches, worked 6 2/3 innings, allowed nine hits, including Jose Valentin's 10th home run, and four earned runs. He left the game with the Orioles trailing by a run.

"He did a good job," Oates said of Williamson. "He gave us six-plus innings, kept us in the game, and that's all you can ask. We had some chances to score some runs with two outs early and didn't. That's the bottom line."

Milwaukee right-hander Cal Eldred (11-10) earned the win with a start similar to Williamson's. He allowed seven hits, including Cal Ripken's 13th home run, three earned runs and four walks in 6 1/3 innings.

John Jaha's second RBI double of the night, in the sixth with one out, broke a 3-3 tie and stood up as the game-winner.

The Orioles lost for the 11th time in 16 games.

In the sixth inning, for the second time of the night, No. 5 and 6 hitters Greg Vaughn and Jaha teamed to produce a tie-breaking run. Vaughn and Jaha hit consecutive one-out doubles to give the Brewers a 4-3 lead, but Williamson was able to prevent further damage.

Vaughn had more hits last night (two) than he had in his previous 23 at-bats.

And Ripken had more home runs last night (one) than he had in the previous month.

Ripken's 400-foot whistler into the left-field bleachers with one out and nobody on in the fifth inning off Eldred tied the score, 3-3. It was Ripken's 310th homer lifetime and 302nd as a shortstop.

It also was his first home run since July 3.

Erasing a 2-0 deficit, the Brewers tied the game in the third on Valentin's two-run home run.

Vaughn led off the fourth with a single to right, stole second, and scored on Jaha's double to left field to give the Brewers a 3-2 lead.

The courage award for the night went to Brewers first baseman Kevin Seitzer.

Seitzer, hit by a pitch Monday that resulted in multiple facial fractures, contributed a pair of doubles in his second game back after missing only one game.

Seitzer -- wearing a facemask on his helmet similar to the one worn by Oakland's Terry Steinbach -- doubled with two outs in the first and third innings but was stranded both times when Dave Nilsson bounced out to end both innings.

While Seitzer was being stranded, Leo Gomez was stranding runners for the Orioles.

Gomez looked at strike three in the first inning, leaving Ripken standing on third and Harold Baines at first base.

Brady Anderson had led off the game with a double to right. Two outs later, Ripken walked and advanced to third on Baines' two-out single that scored Anderson.

The Orioles took a 2-0 lead in the second on Anderson's one-out single that scored Dwight Smith.

And where was Chris Sabo while all this was going on?

He was playing in the sand, so to speak.

Sabo began digging a hole with a cup in front of the Orioles' dugout. Finding the cup too cumbersome an instrument, he found a broken bat and used that to accelerate the process.

With the help of left-hander Jamie Moyer, Sabo built a makeshift baseball stadium out of dirt.

Oh well.

"You've got to have fun, even when you're losing," Williamson said. "Nobody hates losing more than I do, but you still have to try to have fun."

Still, appearances count for something, which explains why assistant general manager Frank Robinson called from the press box to the dugout to order the termination of the dirt stadium.

Even if the Orioles find a way to terminate their losing ways, it may be too late to matter.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Milwaukee Brewers

Site: County Stadium, Milwaukee

Time: 8:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Ben McDonald (12-7, 4.47) vs. Brewers' Ricky Bones (10-7, 3.34)

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