Orioles safeguard 9-4 triumph over Indians Krivda gets hook, but team gets 1st win in Cleveland in 2 years

August 04, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

CLEVELAND -- More than two years had passed since the last time the Orioles won in Jacobs Field, June 29, 1994. Ten straight losses, with Cleveland outscoring the Orioles, 60-25, making leads almost as scarce as victories.

When the Orioles jumped ahead of the Indians 4-0 in the second inning yesterday, manager Davey Johnson seized that advantage and protected it with the ferocity and aggressiveness of a desperate mother grizzly bear. Johnson, ignoring all conventional methods of managing in the regular season, kept a rare 9-4 victory over Cleveland safe.

At what cost, Johnson won't know until today, when the Orioles will try to beat the Indians with rookie pitcher Rocky Coppinger and a short-handed bullpen. But Johnson doesn't really care: The Orioles, he said, needed to win, in the second game of a four-game series, needed to end the string of losses in Jacobs Field.

With an early-inning lead against the Indians, Johnson said, "I'm going to throw the kitchen sink against them."

The Orioles loaded the bases in the second inning and Roberto Alomar hit a three-run double off Chad Ogea (5-3). Orioles 4, Cleveland 0.

This hardly made the Orioles feel comfortable, however, in the Indians' den, Cleveland's lineup stacked with Kenny Lofton, Albert Belle, etc. Rick Krivda started for the Orioles and he shut out the Indians through the first three innings. But Cleveland loaded the bases in the first, leaving Johnson uneasy, and the manager certainly remembers a handful of games this year when Krivda has pitched well early, and the second time through the order, opposing hitters lock in on his off-speed stuff.

Manny Ramirez singled to open the fourth for Cleveland, Jeff Kent singled and Krivda threw outside of the strike zone on his first two pitches to Mark Carreon, and the phone rang in the Orioles' bullpen. Johnson wasn't going to mess around, even with Krivda holding a four-run lead. Garrett Stephenson began warming up in the bullpen, with Krivda pitching a shutout, and pitching coach Pat Dobson went to the mound to settle Krivda and buy some time.

Krivda walked Carreon, loading the bases with nobody out, and fell behind Tony Pena two balls and no strikes, and Stephenson threw quickly in the bullpen. Had Krivda walked Pena, he probably would've been out of the game.

But he made a good pitch down and away, and Pena bounced into a 4-6-3 double play. The Indians managed just one run in the rally, but Johnson had set the tone: He fully intended for the Orioles to hold the lead, and he was willing to use his whole bullpen to do it. Reliever Alan Mills said later that as he sat in the bullpen, he knew then he and Jesse Orosco would be busy on this day.

Brady Anderson hit a two-run homer in the fifth, his 34th, extending the Orioles' lead to 6-1. Stephenson was warming up as the bottom of the fifth started.

The Indians went right back on the attack. Lofton slammed a double, and the Orioles went through the same drill: Dobson walked to the mound to kill time, and reliever Roger McDowell got up in the bullpen and started throwing. "You had a feeling," Mills said later, "this inning was going to be the game. Right there."

The fifth inning. Felt like the ninth inning, and Johnson managed it like the ninth.

Jose Vizcaino bunted in front of home plate and there was some confusion between Krivda and catcher Chris Hoiles, and Vizcaino was safe at first, Lofton at third.

Krivda went back to the mound, preparing to face Julio Franco, kicking at the dirt on the back side of the rubber with his left foot. As he raised up his head to look in for the sign, he saw Hoiles walking to the mound. Johnson, too. Leading 6-1, Krivda was getting the hook. The left-hander said something to Johnson as he left, and threw down a cup of water in the dugout in frustration (Krivda was not available for comment after the game).

"I felt like if we could get a certain advantage in a matchup," Johnson said, "I had to take it."

But Franco, the first hitter faced by McDowell in three weeks, lined a single to center, scoring Lofton and bringing Belle to the plate. McDowell fell behind in the count, came back to 3-2 and went to his best pitch, a sinker. It floated high and dropped down as it neared the plate. Belle took it for a called strike three. "That," said Alomar, "might've been the turning point of the game."

Johnson said, "That was the part of the game where we win or lose."

Manny Ramirez singled home the Indians' third run, and Kent was due to bat. Had the Indians pinch hit slugger Jim Thome for Kent, Johnson was prepared to bring in a left-hander; amazingly, set-up man Orosco was warmed up and ready to go in the bullpen. But Kent batted and popped out and Carreon flied to center, ending the inning, and the storm had passed. Mother Johnson's lead was safe and sound.

Orosco pitched the sixth and seventh, Mills the eighth and ninth innings. Johnson's bullpen will be weary today.

No matter. He got the win he wanted, the win the Orioles needed.

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