Velarde's single in 11th leads N.Y. past Orioles, 6-5

August 09, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- The Orioles were mathematically eliminated last night from being in position for a playoff spot when the expected strike begins Friday.

Randy Velarde's single to right-center off of Mark Eichhorn scored Luis Polonia from second base to lift the New York Yankees past the Orioles, 6-5, in 11 innings at Yankee Stadium.

The Yankees rallied from deficits of 4-0 in the third and 5-4 in the 10th to move nine games ahead of the Orioles in the AL East. The Orioles have three pre-strike games remaining and are 3 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the wild-card race.

"That's not the goal," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said of the wild-card playoff position. "The goal is to win as many games as we can."

The Yankees defeated the Orioles for the sixth time in eight meetings this season. Even if the present looks gloomy, Armando Benitez gave the Orioles reason to feel a little better about the future.

Benitez pitched for Single-A Frederick at this time last year, and he pitched at Yankee Stadium last night.

Did he ever.

Benitez struck out five batters in 3 2/3 innings, threw in the high 90s, and ended four consecutive innings with a strikeout.

And he almost came away with his first major-league victory. Almost.

Leo Gomez drove in the go-ahead run with a one-out single to left that scored Rafael Palmeiro from third base in the 10th inning, but it didn't stand up as the Yankees tied it in the bottom of the inning on pinch hitter Matt Nokes' bases-loaded sacrifice fly to left.

Left-handers Sid Fernandez and Sterling Hitchcock pitched to a 4-4 tie before turning their starts over to the bullpen. The score remained tied from the sixth inning until the 10th as Benitez shut down the Yankees and soft-tossing right-hander Joe Ausino put a muzzle on the Orioles' offense.

Benitez, 21, has struck out 14 batters in 10 major-league innings, and has given up one run. He stranding a runner in the sixth, two in the eighth and two more in the ninth.

"That's three times now it looks like he belongs," Oates said.

Yankees manager Buck Showalter sent left-hander Rob Murphy to the mound to start the 10th. Palmeiro greeted him with a double to left, advanced to third on a grounder back to the mound and scored on Gomez's single to left.

Oates sent Benitez out to start the 10th, and removed him after a one-out single by Mike Stanley, who was lifted for a pinch-runner.

Orioles closer Lee Smith warmed up briefly, but sat back down because he was feeling under the weather.

Oates summoned left-hander Jim Poole, who failed to retire either left-handed batter he faced. Don Mattingly singled, and Paul O'Neill walked to load the bases and force a pitching change.

Eichhorn replaced Poole, and Nokes lofted a fly near the foul line in left. Boston slid in ahead of Brady Anderson's throw to the plate, which arrived on the fly and off line to the first base side, tying the score 5-5.

Benitez, who entered with two outs and a runner on second in the sixth and struck out Gallego to strand Fernandez's runners, faced a tough spot in the eighth, when the Yankees put two runners on base with one out.

Benitez retired Mattingly on a fly to left, and Showalter called upon the best left-handed bat he had on the bench.

Paul O'Neill, batting .361 overall and .390 with runners in scoring position, was announced as the pinch hitter. Oates decided to let the rookie from San Pedro de Macoris, Dominican Republic, challenge O'Neill with his fastball, rather than summon Poole.

O'Neill took strike one, fouled back a pitch, and fanned at strike three, stranding two runners and continuing Benitez's impressive run.

In the ninth, Bernie Williams and Wade Boggs reached on two-out singles, putting Benitez in another jam. This time, Polonia was the victim. Swinging way late, Polonia struck out on high heat from Benitez, a closer in waiting.

In all, Orioles pitchers totaled 10 strikeouts.

Fernandez's New York homecoming capsulized his first American League season in that it included a home run ball and generally was nothing about which to brag, but he did strike out the side in order in the first.

Fernandez gave up four earned runs on six hits and five walks in 5 2/3 innings. He struck out five and gave up a home run for the 27th time this season.

"He [Fernandez] couldn't get his breaking ball over," Oates said"They were sitting on his fastball all night. They swung at one breaking ball all night." The Orioles batted around and scored four runs off of Hitchcock in the third inning, but Fernandez couldn't hold the four-run lead.

Steadily, the Yankees chipped away at the lead.

Gerald Williams' two-out double in the sixth inning tied the score, 4-4, and inspired Orioles manager Johnny Oates to make a pitching change.

On came Benitez.

The potential Orioles' closer put an end to the inning by striking out Mike Gallego on a 94 mph fastball, the 10th major-league strikeout for Benitez, who had not yet pitched seven innings.

After the Orioles took a 4-0 lead in the third, the Yankees got a run back in the third and two in the fourth against Fernandez, who was making his first start since skipping a turn because of a sore left knee.

@

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Yankee Stadium, New York

Time: 8:05

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

Starters: Orioles' Jamie Moyer (4-7, 4.72) vs. Yankees' Jim Abbott (9-7, 4.36)

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