Yanks seal O's fate in home finale, 5-4 N.Y. officially writes end to playoff hopes

September 21, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The numbers no longer can be twisted to suggest there's still life inside the Orioles' season. Games will be played for another week, personal gains sought. But a third straight appearance in the playoffs won't follow.

On the night Cal Ripken ended his consecutive-games streak at 2,632, the Orioles' magic number for elimination hit zero with a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees before 48,013 at Camden Yards.

Ryan Minor started at third base for Ripken, who spent much of the game in the bullpen. The Orioles spent it in a hole, falling behind 2-0 in the fifth inning and never getting back on level ground.

B. J. Surhoff made it close in the eighth, launching a two-run homer off left-hander Graeme Lloyd into the seats in right-center field to reduce the Yankees' lead to 4-3. And it became 5-4 with two outs in the ninth when Eric Davis singled in Roberto Alomar.

But Rafael Palmeiro went after the first pitch from closer Mariano Rivera and grounded out, leaving the Orioles to heave baseballs into the stands as the final gesture in their fan appreciation week.

"B. J. showed me something taking that guy out," manager Ray Miller said. "We just came up a little short."

Doug Johns (3-3), making his second start since June 23, was lifted in the fifth inning after allowing 10 hits and two runs. Luis Sojo singled in Chad Curtis in the second, and Tim Raines had an RBI double in the fifth. The Yankees (107-47) piled it on in the eighth, scoring twice off rookie Chris Fussell and winning their 52nd game on the road, the most since 1976.

The Orioles were blanked until the fifth, when catcher Lenny Webster doubled to left-center and scored on a single by Alomar. A balk by Yankees right-hander Orlando Hernandez (11-4) moved Alomar to second, and he took third with two outs on a wild pitch. Willie Greene, batting third for the only time this season, walked to continue the rally, but Rafael Palmeiro fouled out.

Still down by a run in the seventh, the Orioles (78-77) made another push. Webster drew a walk from reliever Jeff Nelson and was sacrificed to second, bringing left-hander Mike Stanton into the game. Alomar and Davis walked, loading the bases with two outs. Nelson threw a pitch that skipped past catcher Jorge Posada, and Webster attempted to score the tying run. But Posada got to the ball quickly and threw home, where Nelson applied the tag.

Miller came out to dispute the call from plate umpire Greg Kosc, but to no avail. And when Derek Jeter tripled in the eighth to make it 4-1, and Shane Spencer provided an insurance run in the ninth off Jimmy Key, Miller could only watch as a season bludgeoned by injuries lost its last semblence of real meaning.

Pub Date: 9/21/98

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