Orioles' sixth sense is one of frustration, losing to Tigers, 5-3

June 18, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

DETROIT -- The most common Orioles refrain heard during the 1995 season has been this: It's a long year. Manager Phil Regan has said it, shortstop Cal Ripken has said it, pitcher Ben McDonald has said it. The inference being, of course, that there's time for the Orioles to turn around their miserable start.

That's true, especially since the first-place Boston Red Sox refuse to win these days. But time and opportunity are wasting away on the Orioles, who lost their sixth straight game last night, and second in a row to the Detroit Tigers, 5-3.

Orioles starter Kevin Brown gave up three runs with two outs in the fourth inning and squandered a 2-0 lead, Chad Curtis hitting a two-run double. The Orioles came back to tie the game at 3 in the seventh on Kevin Bass' home run, but Detroit immediately answered with two runs in the bottom of the seventh.

The victory was the 2,157th for Detroit manager Sparky Anderson, tying him with Bucky Harris for third place on the all-time managers' victory list.

David Wells (4-3) allowed only three hits and two walks in seven innings to gain the victory. He struck out four to increase his team-leading total to 40.

The Orioles have one last shot at victory on this six-game road trip today, when Mike Mussina pitches against the Tigers' Mike Moore.

Emotion can be a double-edged sword for pitchers like Brown. Often his emotion is what makes him throw his fastball past an enemy slugger, or compels him to hustle in after a bunt and throw off-balance to first.

Emotion, however, also can hurt a pitcher, like a temper tantrum can hurt a golfer just before he attempts a putt. A pitcher's concentration is affected, he thinks about other things besides throwing strikes.

A sustained rally after sustained effectiveness is a symptom of a pitcher hurt by his emotions. Last night, Brown had one awful inning, three runs scoring with two outs.

He wasn't in the best frame of mind, anyway. Pitching to Tigers second baseman Lou Whitaker in the first inning, Brown fell behind in the count three balls and no strikes, and then called plate umpire Dale Scott to the mound. Brown was having problems with the landscape of the mound, and he wanted some changes.

Scott called over head groundskeeper Frank Fenech, and Brown explained to Fenech what he wanted changed. Some sand was dumped on the mound and raked, and finally Brown was ready.

After Whitaker walked, he retired Travis Fryman on a flyout, and Cecil Fielder singled. When Brown asked for a new ball, he tossed the old ball into the dugout. Anderson walked out and asked crew chief Vic Voltaggio if time had ever been called. Brown looked on, his face exuding disgust. This was not a happy man.

Brown got out of the first inning without any damage, however, and pitched scoreless baseball through the second and third. He took a 2-0 lead into the fourth inning, and retired the first two batters.

All of a sudden, though, after a sustained period of effectiveness, the Tigers put together a sustained rally, all started by the bottom of their order. Right fielder Bobby Higginson singled, his first hit in 20 at-bats. No. 9 hitter John

Flaherty, having a surprisingly good season, also singled to right.

Brown paced around the mound. Then center fielder Curtis slammed a liner down the right-field line. Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds moved toward the corner, then slowed up; it appeared he thought the ball would carry into the seats.

It didn't, ricocheting off the glass portion of the right-field fence. Hammonds, just slightly out of position, raced to retrieve the ball, and the relay arrived home slightly too late to get Flaherty, the second run.

Whitaker singled -- the fourth straight Detroit hit with two outs -- scoring Curtis, and Detroit led 3-2. Fryman singled before Fielder flied out to the wall in left-center. Something big, out of nothing.

Bass homered in the top of the seventh to tie the score.

Brown came out for the bottom of the seventh, his pitch count over 120, to pitch to Fielder. The night before, Ben McDonald came out for the bottom of the seventh, his pitch count high, to pitch to Fielder, and allowed a double.

Brown to Fielder: Another double.

Mark Lee relieved Brown, and fell behind Kirk Gibson 3-0 before getting a strikeout, one of four on the night by Gibson.

Alan Trammell was walked intentionally. Juan Samuel was announced as a pinch hitter for Franklin Stubbs, and Regan countered the move, bringing in right-hander Alan Mills.

But Samuel, who's been a dead fastball hitter his whole career, mashed a fastball from Mills into the gap, scoring both runners with the help of a Hammonds error. The Orioles' losing streak was alive and well.

They had an early lead. Two outs into the top of the second inning, Bass singled off Tigers starter David Wells, and then Orioles third baseman Jeff Manto lashed a high fastball into the second deck in left-center field, the 10th homer of the year for Manto.

ORIOLES TODAY

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 1:15 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Mike Mussina (5-4, 4.39) vs. Tigers' Mike Moore (4-5, 5.94)

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