Punchless Blue Jays KO Orioles AL's worst-hitting team piles up 18 hits in rolling to 13-6 win

Johns, bullpen battered

O's fall to fourth, 9 1/2 out in wild-card race

June 19, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The intrigue surrounding Orioles' wild-card fever took on a grimmer look last night. The Toronto Blue Jays reminded them with a 13-6 beating at Camden Yards that no assumptions are safe this season.

Hoping to use this four-game home series to break a third-place tie with the Blue Jays while reasserting themselves within their own division, the Orioles instead suffered another public flogging by the league's weakest-hitting team. They fell to 6-13 in the American League East and dropped 9 1/2 games behind the wild-card leader Boston Red Sox.

The Blue Jays have hit .253 against the rest of the league. Against the Orioles, they have run up a .376 average, 34 runs and 56 hits, including 22 for extra bases, in four games. Orioles pitching has suffered a corresponding 8.74 ERA.

At least the Orioles can look forward tonight to Roger Clemens.

Before a sellout crowd of 47,374, Shannon Stewart, Shawn Green and Alex Gonzalez had three hits apiece in last night's wipeout. Gonzalez, the Jays' No. 9 hitter, fell a triple shy of hitting for the cycle. Right fielder Jose Canseco was the only Blue Jays starter not to hit safely but satisfied himself with becoming the majors' first 20-20 player. Canseco hit his 20th home run against the Orioles last Saturday in Toronto and achieved his 20th stolen base in last night's third inning.

The Blue Jays' 18 hits represented a season high both for them -- and for Orioles pitching. It marked the ninth time this season the Orioles have allowed 10 runs or more. They did so 12 times all last season.

Statistically the league's best defense, the Orioles fumbled an opportunity to tie a 7-year-old franchise record for consecutive error-free games. Their league ranking sounded hollow last night while the Blue Jays bled them with three stolen bases, a passed ball and two infield hits to lead off the first two innings against starter Doug Johns (2-2).

Miscommunication between Johns and catcher Chris Hoiles led to the Blue Jays' first run. Anticipating a breaking pitch, Hoiles whiffed on a Johns fastball that was called a strike against Carlos Delgado, allowing Stewart to score.

Stewart had reached base when he outraced a three-hop ground ball to third baseman Cal Ripken. Center fielder Green then followed with a single and uncontested stolen base that put runners at second and third with none out. After getting Canseco to foul out, Johns crossed Hoiles, scoring Stewart. Green then scored on Delgado's sacrifice fly for a 2-0 lead.

Johns paid for a leadoff ground-rule double by Gonzalez in the third inning. Gonzalez took third on a sacrifice and scored when Johns bounced a 3-2 breaking pitch past Hoiles for a wild pitch.

Down 3-0, the Orioles could only flail against Chris Carpenter. A leading Blue Jays prospect, the 23-year-old right-hander had won only one of six starts this season, including last Saturday's start against the Orioles in Toronto when he was knocked from the game on his ninth pitch by Rafael Palmeiro's line drive off his hand.

Consistently working ahead in counts, Carpenter rolled through the rematch against a team that is only 20-26 against right-handed starters. He faced only one more than the minimum 15 hitters through five innings and never allowed a runner in scoring position. His only blemish through five innings came when Harold Baines singled dumped a two-out single to center in the first inning.

When the Orioles finally threatened Carpenter in the sixth inning they found themselves trailing 7-0 and outhit 11-1. The Blue Jays had chased Johns in the fifth inning when Stewart scored catcher Dave Dalesandro on a two-out double to right and Delgado doubled home Stewart.

Johns' ouster meant the first work for Terry Mathews since June 1. It did not mean a change of luck for the star-crossed reliever.

Able to get two outs to begin the sixth, Mathews walked Dalesandro then surrendered three consecutive flared hits to score two runs. When Green dumped the third hit to make the Jays lead 7-0, Mathews turned to his catcher with outstretched arms as if asking what next.

Thank goodness for small victories. The Orioles sidestepped their third shutout in the sixth inning but the rally was little more than cosmetic. Again Baines delivered, following up Eric Davis' two-out double with one of his own to create a 7-2 game.

Norm Charlton was handed the seventh inning and collapsed. The Blue Jays ripped him for five runs and five hits. The only significance to the inning was Ripken's backhanded fumble of Stewart's one-out grounder for an error. It was the Orioles' first since June 4 and only their second in 24 games. The misplay prevented the club from tying a franchise-record 13 consecutive errorless games.

When Carpenter wilted, the Orioles jumped him for empty runs. After going 1-for-16 against him through five innings, they were 8-for-13 against Carpenter before Jays manager Tim Johnson rescued him before he could get an out in the seventh. Baines contributed a two-run single to give him four RBIs.

The night's most significant moment waited until the ninth inning when Dave Steib made his first major-league appearance since retiring in 1993. Steib, 40, allowed three hits but left the bases loaded.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Blue Jays' Roger Clemens (7-6, 3.47) vs. O's Pete Smith (0-1, 11.57)

Tickets: 1,200 remain

Pub Date: 6/19/98

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