Yanks add sting to string, 15-5 O's youthful fill-ins get championship bashing from titlists

Grand slam in 9th caps rout

tTC 4th loss in a row puts O's on 'card' brink

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

Ray Miller turned Jurassic Park into Romper Room last night. Unfortunately for the Orioles, the New York Yankees remained the Yankees and administered a routine 15-5 pounding that pushed both teams toward inevitable conclusions.

Losing their fourth straight, but this time in excruciatingly slow fashion, the Orioles fell to 77-76 and within another loss or Boston win of mathematical elimination from the American League wild-card race. The new AL East champions meanwhile climbed within five wins of tying the modern AL record for most wins in a season.

The Orioles provided a Camden Yards crowd of 48,113 a glimpse into the future as Miller employed five players summoned within the last three weeks. The Yankees played their regulars and raised their record to 8-2 against the Orioles this season. Five Orioles pitchers contributed to a 3-hour, 52-minute game with 10 walks, 15 hits and some obvious late-inning indifference.

The Yankees didn't stop pounding until they piled on with a seven-run ninth inning against three relievers. Replacement right fielder Shane Spencer crushed a grand slam to follow starter Paul O'Neill's three-run homer three innings before.

"Whatever the situation is you have to be ready. The score and the situation are no excuse," said Alan Mills, who allowed a walk and three hits to begin the ninth before turning the mess over to Jesse Orosco, who gave up the grand slam. "You're supposed to be a professional. When I go home and look for who to blame, I look in the mirror."

The game wasn't without value. Though Miller refrained from offering any concession speeches, he did start rookie Danny Clyburn in left field and call-up Lyle Mouton in right. The pair, who went 3-for-6 last night, had a combined 11 outfield starts between them this season before the game. Rafael Palmeiro and B. J. Surhoff failed to start but kept alive this season's perfect attendance by appearing as pinch hitters in the sixth inning.

Ryan Minor batted cleanup in his first major-league start, albeit as an odd-fitting first baseman. Minor went 1-for-3 before being lifted for a pinch hitter.

The Orioles initially played as if looking for a place to fall. They found it in the first inning, but David Wells (18-4) almost let them back on their feet.

Starter Juan Guzman (10-15) gave his least impressive performance in 10 starts as an Oriole. Able to manufacture a 1.98 ERA in his first four starts at Camden Yards, he came close to collapsing during a two-run first inning and had to slog through five innings. Guzman finally left after 108 pitches, 56 coming in the fourth and fifth innings. Rocky Coppinger warmed repeatedly before entering in the sixth.

"Obviously, we didn't pitch well. Guzman looked like he was a little rusty there at first," said Miller. "Then he came back and settled down for an inning, then he certainly didn't help himself in that one inning. I thought we'd go to Mills and Orosco and try to keep it close and see what happened in the ninth. Six hits and a walk later, they put seven runs on the board."

"It wasn't that I was tired, I just didn't have good control," said Guzman, who appeared on three days' rest after pitching 201 1/3 innings. "I didn't have command of my changeup. Things happened early."

The Yankees needed only six hits to produce 14 base runners through five innings as Guzman walked seven against only three strikeouts.

It didn't take very long for the Yankees (106-46) to remind their former tormentors of their versatile offense. They led 2-0 before making their first out. Chuck Knoblauch led off the game with a single and immediately took third base on a steal compounded by catcher Lenny Webster's throwing error. Knoblauch scored on a single by Derek Jeter, who took third on a stolen base compounded by Webster's passed ball. A walk to O'Neill preceded Bernie Williams' RBI single.

Guzman walked a batter in every inning. He left trailing 5-2 despite allowing six singles, three after the first inning.

Aside from receiving seven walks, the Yankees received two unearned runs during a three-run fourth when disaster struck on O'Neill's two-out grounder to second base. Roberto Alomar attempted his patented backhand flip but this time the toss went wild. Guzman, covering, had no shot. Two runs scored on a ball that never left the infield.

Through five innings, Wells allowed just as many hits but walked only one. Mike Bordick's two-out single brought the Orioles within 2-1 in the third inning and Eric Davis' two-out hit in the fifth scored Alomar to make it 5-2.

Coppinger held the score for only two hitters. The third, O'Neill, crushed a three-run homer over the scoreboard in right field to make it 8-2.

Showing an offensive pulse against a left-hander, the Orioles chased Wells with five consecutive one-out singles in the sixth. The early ouster marked only the second time in his last 22 starts that Wells failed to clear six innings.

In two starts this year against his former team Wells surrendered 21 hits and 10 earned runs in 11 1/3 innings.

For Wells, the spike in his ERA may have doomed his long-shot chances at a Cy Young Award.

For the Orioles, it imperiled their run at a winning record. Either way, a shot clock sounded like a good idea.

Pub Date: 9/19/98

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