A day later, O's lament toughest loss Grand slam ending leaves club empty

Sidelight

August 31, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Composed of veterans who've experienced lots of highs and lows, the Orioles rarely are affected by defeat, acting the same way after losses as they do after victories.

But the wrenching 9-6 loss to Seattle on Thursday night got to them. One out away from a victory that would've left the Orioles only three games behind the New York Yankees in the AL East and a full game ahead in the wild-card race, closer Randy Myers gave up a grand slam to Mark Whiten.

As the ball rose toward the right-field stands, Bobby Bonilla raced to the wall and leaped, even as Whiten's homer carried some 20 or 30 feet over his head. Manager Davey Johnson turned and looked at coach Pat Dobson, and kicked an inanimate object. The Orioles' clubhouse was dead silent afterward, other than a few low whispers.

"This loss hurts," said Brady Anderson, who like Bonilla had hit two home runs to pace a comeback from an early 5-2 deficit. "This one hurts as much as any loss we've had this year."

It made the fact that he became only the third player in Orioles history to reach 40 homers "a little bittersweet."

In addition to the home runs, the Orioles were able to come back because five relievers shut out the Mariners from the fourth through the eighth innings.

The sixth reliever used by Johnson, Myers, took over for the ninth. Mariners shortstop Alex Rodriguez led off with a single, his fifth hit of the game. Myers then walked Ken Griffey. Edgar Martinez hit a potential double-play grounder to Cal Ripken at shortstop, but the ball bounced off Ripken, and into the glove of second baseman Roberto Alomar, who had extended himself from second base and grabbed the ball. Second base umpire Drew Coble called Griffey out on a questionable call.

But Johnson later would lament the extra out the Orioles didn't get on the play. "We make that double play 99 times out of 100," he said. "When you do it, you're out of the game. At worst, you think you might end up in a tie."

Jay Buhner popped out to Ripken for the second out. Myers walked Brian Hunter, loading the bases. Then he threw Whiten a first-pitch fastball, and Whiten bashed it over the right-field wall.

Myers said afterward he thought he'd made a good pitch.

But Myers has had a particularly tough time with Seattle, blowing two save chances and losing a game in three appearances. Johnson was asked before last night's game if he may consider using other pitchers to help finish games against the Mariners.

"This is really not the time to see if someone can handle it." But, he added, "If I don't like the matchups, instead of Randy working the whole inning, I might have him get one out to get the save."

He did that last night. Myers got the last out of the eighth, but when he allowed two singles in the ninth, Johnson brought on Alan Mills to record the last two outs.

Pub Date: 8/31/96

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