Meanwhile, O's fall again

September 05, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

Cal Ripken has done the Orioles a huge favor on this homestand. Through all the standing ovations and unveiling of 10-foot numbers on the warehouse, through all the watery eyes, nobody has cared to notice the collapse of the team around him.

But by Friday, the consecutive-games record should belong to Ripken and the talk of the town will return, once more, to the Orioles' season, maybe the most disappointing of any team in baseball. California ended a nine-game losing streak with a 5-3 victory over the Orioles yesterday, despite Ripken's 13th homer of the year.

The Orioles came home last week playing their best baseball of the year, but having lost six of their first seven games of the homestand, they've fallen 10 games under .500 for the first time this year. At 55-65, they're virtually out of the running for the AL wild card.

They are 6 1/2 games and five teams behind Kansas City, with only 24 games to play. Somebody better get John Tesh to compose a requiem.

Manager Phil Regan conceded this was taking some of the joy out of Streak Week. "It's making it really difficult," Regan said, "I'm sure Cal would be the first to say that he'd be having a better time if we were winning."

Ripken said: "[Losing] isn't as much fun as if you were winning and in a pennant race, if you were going out there and thinking of ways to help your team win. It's more of a downer."

The Orioles are down, let there be no doubt. Different day, different problem, same result. The stirring music that coincides with the numerical update on Ripken's streak isn't played until the game is official, and in all but one instance, the brief ceremony has occurred with Ripken on the field, in the top of the sixth; that's because the Orioles are always losing.

Yesterday, they led 3-1 after three innings. Ripken scored Brady Anderson with an RBI grounder in the first inning, and prior to Ripken's at-bat in the third, a videotape from his MVP season of 1991 was played. Teammate Mike Mussina noticed that Ripken had been hitting out of a crouch that year, and playfully suggested to his teammate that he try that stance again.

Ripken, who constantly tinkers with his stance, anyway -- "About 20 different stances in my last 28 at-bats," he said -- crouched a little and drove the ball over the wall in right-center field, a bases-empty shot. Harold Baines subsequently singled home a run, and the Orioles led 3-1.

Orioles starter Jamie Moyer retired the first two hitters in the fifth inning. One more out and the game would be official with the Orioles holding a lead and the music would be played for Ripken in the dugout.

But Tony Phillips homered, Jim Edmonds and Tim Salmon singled and Chili Davis homered. Four batters, four runs. "I didn't make the pitches when I had to make the pitches," Moyer said. "That seems to be the story in my last couple of starts."

And the story of the Orioles' entire season.

"It stinks," said right fielder Bobby Bonilla. "It's just terrible. . . . we haven't played better."

Outfielder Kevin Bass said: "It would be a lot nicer for Cal if we had won a few games on this homestand, even [playing] .500. It stinks losing, man."

`

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: California Angels

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:35 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Angels' Brian Anderson (6-7, 5.85) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (9-10, 5.75)

Tickets: Sold out

Streak activities

* Gates open half-hour earlier, at 5:35 p.m.

Tickets not torn, but stamped with a commemorative seal.

* First pitch by Earl Weaver.

* Post-game ceremony begins five minutes after the game.

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