O's tripped by Yanks, 3-2, fall 5 1/2 back Weary club is beaten in series opener, drops 3rd in row on road trip

Deficit is largest of season

Orioles now 9-22 vs. teams over .500

June 28, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The Orioles departed Camden Yards on Sunday with many players downplaying suggestions that this 10-game road trip to Texas, New York and Toronto was of any special significance.

But the more the Orioles lose, the more significant the trip becomes: These 10 games could be remembered as the turning point in a disastrous season. The Yankees beat the Orioles, 3-2, last night, building their advantage in the American League East to 5 1/2 games, their largest lead of the season.

The Orioles have lost three in a row after winning the trip's opener, and they continue to bow before tough opponents. The Orioles are 9-22 against teams over .500, and, manager Davey Johnson said last night, "Basically, that's been the story of our season."

The Orioles had a chance to win, even after left-hander Kenny Rogers held them to seven singles and one walk in the first 7 2/3 innings. Scott Erickson pitched eight strong innings and the Orioles were down only a run as the ninth inning began.

Chris Hoiles walked with one out, and pinch runner Manny Alexander stole second. Luis Polonia fouled out to left field, but the Orioles had Brady Anderson, the league leader in home runs with 26, due to hit.

But as Johnson did against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday night, Yankees manager Joe Torre ordered an intentional pass, putting the potential winning run on base, so closer John Wetteland could pitch to the right-handed hitting Mike Devereaux. Somebody may have remembered the game last May, when Anderson hit a three-run homer in the ninth inning to beat Wetteland.

"I know you shouldn't put the go-ahead run on base," Torre said, "but I'd rather have Wetteland pitching to a right-hander than the guy who's leading the world in home runs. If it doesn't work, I can sleep anyway."

In the dugout, Devereaux hoped the Yankees would do this and give him a chance to hit with the game on the line. "You can't be a hero if you can't get in those situations," Devereaux said.

Unlike the Rangers, who took advantage of Johnson's move and won Wednesday night's game, 6-5, on Juan Gonzalez's three-RBI double, the Orioles failed to come back. Devereaux hit a long drive down the right-field line, just foul. Wetteland came back with a high, two-strike fastball and Devereaux waved at it, ++ ending a long, tiresome day for the Orioles.

The Orioles' plane from Texas landed in Newark, N.J., around 5 a.m., and by the time the team arrived at the hotel, it was 6 a.m. Early batting practice was canceled, and most of the Orioles rolled into Yankee Stadium, looking worn, at around 5: 30 p.m.

Some position players took batting practice in an indoor cage, others slumped into the chairs in front of their lockers and wondered why the team had to play in New York the day after a night game in Texas.

The exhausted Orioles made mistakes, but they were the sort of mistakes they've been making all season. Failures to capitalize, or to pinch off a rally.

First inning. Wade Boggs hit a chopper to Cal Ripken's right. Ripken gloved it and tried to set himself to throw, but his right foot slipped slightly, and his throw dipped into the dirt in front of first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and bounced into the stands.

"Cal slipped," Johnson said. "They watered down the field so much for Boggs over there. It's a bog."

Paul O'Neill's chopper over the mound eventually scored Boggs.

New York added to its lead in the second inning. Designated hitter Mike Aldrete, who began the game with eight hits in 21 career at-bats against Erickson, slashed a line drive into the left-field corner, a stand-up double. Mariano Duncan hit a line drive to right, but directly to Bobby Bonilla, for the second out.

More Yankees luck: Erickson threw a good sinking fastball to Joe Girardi, and the New York catcher beat it into the ground. The first bounce, in front of the plate. The second, over Erickson's head. The third and fourth bounces, past second base and into center field.

New York 2, Orioles 0, and the Yankees fans roared intensely.

The Orioles scored their first run in the fourth inning, but it was what they didn't get that hurt them. Palmeiro drove home Devereaux with a single, and after second baseman Duncan made an errant throw on a grounder by Bonilla, the Orioles had runners at first and second and one out.

But Ripken popped out and B. J. Surhoff struck out.

Erickson held the Yankees scoreless through the third inning, the fourth, the fifth. But in the sixth Bernie Williams smashed a liner between left fielder Devereaux and center fielder Anderson to the area of Yankee Stadium known as Death Valley.

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