Erickson went from bad to worse With his pitches up, Yanks brought him down by going other way


September 13, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

One of the constants in the Orioles' rotation seemed to be in constant trouble last night. At least, for the brief amount of time he was in the game.

It began like any other start for Scott Erickson -- with Van Halen music blaring in the clubhouse. But he was gone before the compact disc had played through, lasting only 2 1/3 innings in a 13-5 loss to the New York Yankees at Camden Yards.

Paybacks were everywhere. The Yankees continued to exact revenge for losing three of four at home to the Orioles, and they went after Erickson hard following his masterful performance against them last Saturday.

Their two hits in the first inning were half as many as they had against him in nine innings last week. The one run equaled their total for that entire game.

It only served as the appetizer.

The Yankees devoured Erickson in the second inning, sending 11 batters to the plate and scoring five times. They hit the ball to all fields, and even milked an error out of him on a swinging bunt near the mound.

Three batters into the third, manager Davey Johnson had seen enough. Tim Raines reached on an infield hit with one out and Wade Boggs followed with a double to right. Erickson's last pitch, his 83rd, ensured his quickest exit this year -- not counting the two-thirds of an inning he worked in relief against the Montreal Expos in June.

A wild pitch by Arthur Rhodes and Paul O'Neill's sacrifice fly completed Erickson's line. He allowed eight runs and nine hits, walked four and struck out two.

"They jumped all over us," Johnson said. "It was another offensive surge. We didn't pitch well."

The woes began with Erickson.

"His pitch selection was good. It's just that everything was up," said pitching coach Ray Miller. "They did a very intelligent job of hitting. They haven't tried to pull the ball. Their big guys, in particular, are going the other way."

Said Johnson: "I thought he threw all right, but they kept going the other way with it and they hit the ball hard. Every once in a while, that happens to Scottie."

Not often. He hadn't allowed more than four runs since July 17, when the Boston Red Sox scored five off him in 4 2/3 innings, and the eight runs last night were the most since July 6 in Detroit. He hadn't lost since July 12 against the Milwaukee Brewers, a span of 12 starts.

Consistency has been his calling card, but he was fighting an uphill battle from the opening pitch.

"It wasn't my day, basically," said Erickson, whose record fell to 16-6. "I struggled through the first, and it didn't get any better in the second. It was kind of a downpour from then on. They were ready. I had just faced them five days ago, so there was nothing unfamiliar for them. It was just one of those days.

"They're a good team. They've got a real good lineup. We did a good job against them last time. Hopefully, we'll win [today] and be right back where we started, basically, and go from there."

The scores of the past two games in this series, including Thursday night's 14-2 shelling, didn't concern Erickson. He couldn't see any reason to get caught up in the numbers, unless it's the distance between these teams in the AL East.

"Whether it's 2-1 or 10-1, a loss is a loss. It doesn't matter," he said.

"It's only one game in the loss column. You can't worry about it. It doesn't matter at the end of the series who scored the most runs. The bottom line is wins and losses."

Pub Date: 9/13/97

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