Indians drop O's to new depths Team falls below .500 for 1st time this season

Mussina blasted, 14-9

July 27, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Abandon ship.

Bobby Bonilla, save yourself and swim for San Diego. David Wells, grab a couple of bats and try floating to Seattle. Albert Belle and his friends from Cleveland are blasting gaping holes in the side of the S.S. Oriole, which is sinking fast.

Cleveland hammered Orioles ace Mike Mussina and three relievers for 20 hits en route to a 14-9 victory last night, creating a litany of ugly facts.

The Orioles are 50-51, under .500 for the first time this season.

The Orioles are 39-49 since April 17, and only the Detroit Tigers have a worse record in the American League since then.

The Orioles are 11 games out of first in the AL East, their biggest deficit of the year. They are five games behind in the wild-card race.

They have lost seven of their past eight.

They have lost 11 of their past 13 games at Camden Yards.

"Getting real boring, ain't it?" Orioles manager Davey Johnson said.

A crowd of 46,751 waved promotional orange rally towels last night. White might have been a more appropriate color.

Some Orioles are performing remarkably against Cleveland in this series. Roberto Alomar has hit three homers and scored seven runs. Brady Anderson has two homers, including his 33rd last night. But they can't keep up with the Indians' offense, not with Cleveland averaging more than a run an inning.

"The offense keeps trying to catch [Cleveland]. . . . What we need is a well-pitched game," said Johnson.

The Indians have fared well against Mussina in the past, but they never had administered the type of abuse as they did last night.

Jim Thome hit a first-inning fastball from Mussina about as hard as a ball can be hit -- the shock of bat meeting ball reverberated violently throughout the park -- for a 440-foot homer that bounced once on Eutaw Street and skipped high off the B&O warehouse, near the third-story windows. Brian Giles hit a two-run homer three batters later.

Mussina, Johnson said, left a couple of fastballs up to hot left-handed hitters "and boom-boom." Four runs.

The Indians had a series of bloop hits in the fourth, and Mussina was gone after 3 2/3 innings, matching his shortest outing of this season. "I'm sure his ego was a little bruised," Johnson said.

Jimmy Haynes relieved Mussina and gave up a single to Thome and a three-run homer to Belle, finalizing Mussina's line: 11 hits, eight runs (all earned).

His ERA has climbed to 5.24, and for the first time in his life, he has lost three straight decisions.

The Indians did not stop there. Haynes could retire only one of the seven hitters he faced, throwing strikes on only nine of 19 pitches. Of Cleveland's first 26 hitters, 16 reached base on hits or walks.

Rick Krivda took over from Haynes (Johnson won't need to jog today, considering all the miles he logged going to the mound ) and four of the seven hitters he faced reached base, three on walks.

Keith Shepherd, the fourth pitcher for the Orioles, briefly restored some sanity, cutting off a rally in the sixth and shutting out the Indians in the seventh. However, with the Orioles down 12-9 in the eighth, Cleveland catcher Sandy Alomar ripped a two-run single up the middle, pushing the Indians' lead to five runs.

Abandon ship.

"I always thought from the beginning we had the players here to win, but we haven't put it together yet, and it's hard to understand why we haven't," said first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. "I sure don't have the answers. We just have to keep playing hard and we can turn it around."

The most competitive matchup actually took place between Roberto Alomar and Belle, who got into a bit of a scrape Thursday night, when Alomar thought Belle tried to injure him while angrily trying to break up a double play. If Belle had the upper hand in Round 1, Alomar landed a blow in Round 2 -- before Belle had the last laugh, with his three-run homer.

When Belle hit a ball into the left-field corner in the first inning, Alomar stood on the shortstop side of second base to take the throw -- perhaps a little wary of Belle as he slid into second. Mike Devereaux's throw beat Belle to the bag, but Alomar couldn't get the tag down in time, and Belle had a double.

Two innings later, though, Alomar got the best of Belle. With Jim Thome on second and Belle on first, Manny Ramirez hit an easy grounder to Cal Ripken at short. Ripken flipped to Alomar, who took the throw, stepped back and fired to first in submarine-fashion -- unloading his throw almost from knee-level -- to complete the double play; had Belle slid, Alomar's throw could've easily decked him. Belle veered out of the baseline, however, and as he passed Alomar, the Orioles' second baseman glared at him, for emphasis.

"That's the good thing about the game," Alomar said, smiling wryly. "There's always tomorrow."

But the Orioles are running out of their tomorrows in a hurry.

Orioles today

Opponent: Cleveland Indians

Site: Oriole Park

Time: 1: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Indians' Orel Hershiser (10-6, 3.71) vs. O's David Wells (6-10, 4.89)

! Tickets: Sold out

Hole in one

The Orioles have fallen behind in a hurry during their winless homestand. Only on Wednesday, did their opponent not score a first-inning run, and the Twins made up for it with five in the fourth. A game-by-game look:

Date ..Opp. .. .. .. ..1st .. .. .. ..Final

7/22 ..Minnesota .. .. .3 .. .. .. ..L, 9-5

7/23 ..Minnesota .. ....1 .. .. .. ..L, 3-2

7/24 ..Minnesota .. .. .0 .. .. .. .L, 11-4

7/25 ..Cleveland .. .. .3 .. .. .. .L, 10-7

7/26 ..Cleveland .. .. .4 .. .. .. .L, 14-9

Pub Date: 7/27/96

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