No relief or rest for dazed M's

October 03, 1997|By Ken Rosenthal

SEATTLE -- How stupid does Seattle closer Heathcliff Slocumb look now for predicting that Randy Myers was headed for a fall?

Slocumb's own bullpen is so bad, it can't even keep the games close enough for Myers to attempt a save.

Before the Division Series, an American League scout said, "The difference is, Baltimore gets to bat for nine innings and Seattle gets to bat for seven."

And after two games, with both Mariners starters failing to

complete more than five innings, the difference appears more pronounced than ever.

It was bad enough in Game 1 when the Seattle relievers allowed a 5-1 deficit to evolve into a 9-3 rout.

It was even worse in Game 2, when they transformed a 2-1 lead in the fifth inning into another staggering 9-3 defeat.

The Orioles scored eight of their nine runs yesterday after Mariners starter Jamie Moyer departed with a strained left elbow.

The Seattle relievers faced 24 hitters and retired only 11.

And oh yes, Jose Cruz Jr. is still a Toronto Blue Jay.

Cruz hit 26 home runs, 14 of them after the Mariners traded him for Mike Timlin and Paul Spoljaric.

Too bad more trades aren't permitted in the postseason.

With the Mariners possibly headed for the National League, the Orioles probably could get designated hitter Edgar Martinez for Terry Mathews right now.

Don't laugh. This is the team that sent Jeff Nelson to the Yankees in the Tino Martinez trade two years ago, then failed to re-sign Mike Jackson last winter.

This also is the team that traded the likely Rookie of the Year runner-up for two relievers who have posted more baserunners (eight) than outs (seven) in this series.

The Seattle bullpen has allowed 10 earned runs in 8 1/3 innings.

The Orioles' bullpen has permitted one run in 4 1/3 .

"The secret basically is stay out of the middle, get your starters to go to the seventh and hopefully the eighth inning," Seattle manager Lou Piniella said. "Then you eliminate that problem entirely."

But unfortunately for Piniella, Randy Johnson lasted only five innings in Game 1, and Moyer left with a strained left elbow after 4 2/3 in Game 2.

The crowd of 59,309 at the Kingdome let out a collective groan when Moyer walked off the mound, dreading the inevitable.

"It almost seemed like that was the turning point of the game," Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said.

Almost?

The left-handed Spoljaric replaced Moyer with the count 1-0 on Roberto Alomar, runners on first and second and two outs.

The switch-hitting Alomar continued batting left-handed due to a shoulder injury that prevents him from swinging from the right.

But even with that disadvantage, he hit a two-run double on a full count to give the Orioles a 3-2 lead.

It was the second straight time the Orioles scored on their first at-bat against a Mariners reliever -- Chris Hoiles greeted Timlin with a bases-empty homer in Game 1.

"Our bullpen threw the ball very well in September," Piniella said.

Then he paused.

"You know we've got a good mixture out there," Piniella said. "Right now, we're not getting the job done. That can change over the weekend."

It can, but it's probably too late.

The Mariners made their two big trades with Toronto and Boston at the July 31 deadline, and now it turns out they might not win a postseason game.

The Orioles, meanwhile, feature two of the game's top setup men (Armando Benitez and Arthur Rhodes) and the dominant closer (Myers).

Benitez held opposing hitters to a league-low .125 batting average with men on base this season. Rhodes was fourth in the league at .193.

The Orioles' bullpen thus far has played only a minor role -- both starters pitched into the seventh inning, and the offense erupted for 10 runs in innings six through eight.

Still, Benitez got a huge out after replacing Erickson yesterday, striking out Roberto Kelly on three pitches to end the Mariners' seventh-inning rally.

Kelly represented the tying run, but Benitez struck him out on two vicious sliders and a fastball, stranding Ken Griffey on deck.

"Kelly wanted no part of him," Jesse Orosco said. "After that slider down and away in the dirt, he said, 'I'm going to get this at-bat over with.' "

And with that, the Orioles resumed their pounding of Bobby Ayala, who did not allow an earned run from Sept. 4 to the end of the season, but gave up six yesterday.

Ayala allowed a two-run homer by Brady Anderson in the seventh, then failed to retire five of the six hitters he faced in the eighth.

The fans booed lustily as the game got out of hand ("You don't like to see that happen at home, naturally," Piniella said).

And in the ninth, Myers finally put the Mariners out of their misery, striking out the side.

It wasn't a save, Heathcliff.

You can't earn one with a six-run lead.

O's 'pen mightier

The Orioles' bullpen has outpitched Seattle's in the first two games of the AL Division Series:

Orioles .. .. ..IP .. ..H .. ..ER .. ..BB .. ..SO .. ..ERA

Benitez .. .. ...2 .. ..3 .. ...1 .. ...1 .. ...3 .. .4.50

Orosco .. .. .. .1 1/3 .. .1 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. .0.00

Myers .. .. .. ..1 .. ..0 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ...3 .. .0.00

Totals .. .. .. .4 1/3 .. .4 .. ...1 .. ...1 .. ...7 .. .2.08

Seattle... .. ..IP .. ..H .. ..ER .. ..BB .. ..SO .. ..ERA

Spoljaric .. .. .1 2/3 .. .4 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. .0.00

Ayala .. .. .. ..1 1/3 .. .4 ... ..6 .. ...3 .. ...2 ...40.50

Charlton .. .. ..2 1/3 .. .2 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. .0.00

Slocumb .. .. ...1 .. ..1 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. ...0 .. .0.00

Timlin .. .. .. .. 2/3 .. .3 .. ...4 .. ...1 .. ...1 ...54.00

BWells .. .. .. .1 1/3 .. .1 .. ...0 .. ...0 .. ...1 .. .0.00

Totals .. .. .. .8 1/3 15 .. ..10 .. ...5 .. ...6 ...10.80

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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