O's take pounding from Jays, Canseco Greene hurt on crash into wall in 7-3 loss, but X-rays negative

September 23, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- The Orioles couldn't find a safe place to hide last night. They either were getting bullied by Jose Canseco or punished by the smallest player at SkyDome. They were an equal opportunity victim.

With two outs and the score tied in the sixth inning, pint-sized second baseman Craig Grebeck roped a two-run double to left (( field, and Jose Canseco homered twice as part of the beating administered by the Toronto Blue Jays in a 7-3 victory before 26,363 that assured the Orioles of finishing no higher than fourth in the AL East.

Canseco's blasts off Mike Mussina (13-9) gave him 46, one short of the club record held by George Bell. Mussina also allowed an inside-the-park homer to Tony Fernandez in the fourth that cost the Orioles a lead and their left fielder.

With one out, Fernandez lined a pitch toward the corner. As the ball bounced on the warning track beyond Willie Greene's reach, he turned and struck the back of his head on a padded fence post. Greene crumpled to the track and lay motionless as center fielder Brady Anderson raced over to retrieve the ball, and Fernandez slid in without a throw for his second career inside-the-park homer and the third by the Blue Jays this season.

"The last thing I remember was hitting the wall. After that, nothing," Greene said.

The game was delayed for 14 minutes. Trainers Richie Bancells and Brian Ebel, and manager Ray Miller bolted from the dugout, and every position player on the field except Chris Hoiles and first baseman Calvin Pickering gathered near Greene, who was making his first start in left since last season in Cincinnati.

Bancells put a brace around Greene's neck. With his eyes open and appearing alert, Greene was strapped to a spinal board, lifted onto a cart and taken by ambulance to Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto. X-rays on his neck and skull were negative and he returned to the clubhouse after the game.

Bancells said Greene suffered a mild concussion and a lower-back strain. "His neck's perfectly fine. He's day-to-day, like the rest of us."

Miller said when he went out to check on Greene, "his eyes were flickering, rolling around. Obviously, we were worried about his neck."

His club was just as unresponsive. The Orioles (78-79) had 10 runners through four innings, only one after that -- a leadoff walk to Pickering in the ninth -- and fell below .500 for the third time this month. The Blue Jays remained 3 1/2 games behind Boston for the wild card. It's their turn now to fiddle with the numbers and dream.

Mussina allowed all seven runs in seven innings, throwing 121 pitches before departing. "Some days you go out there and it seems like they know what you're throwing all the time. Today was one of those days," he said.

Mussina's first pitch, to Toronto leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart, was lined off the right-field wall for a double. Shawn Green bounced to the mound, with Mussina looking Stewart back to second, but Canseco launched a ball into the Blue Jays' bullpen.

Canseco usually doesn't win these battles. He was 8-for-41 with no homers lifetime against Mussina until busting out last night.

The Orioles wasted singles by Roberto Alomar and Eric Davis in the first inning, but caught up in the third.

Mike Bordick led off with a double into left-center field. Alomar reached on an error by shortstop Alex Gonzalez, who couldn't backhand a bouncer in the hole, and both runners moved up on Anderson's sacrifice bunt. Chris Carpenter left a pitch over the plate to Davis, who doubled over the head of Green in right field to tie the score.

Carpenter (12-7) also was burned for a tie-breaking single by Hoiles in the fourth, but retired the last 15 batters he faced. The Orioles had runners on the corners with none out after Bordick followed Hoiles' hit with a single to right-center field. With a chance to break open the game, they couldn't even chip away.

Hoiles had been 2-for-20 in his last seven games with an at-bat. He could be playing more during the final week of the season with Lenny Webster's status remaining uncertain because of a painful left shoulder.

A walk to Jose Cruz and two-out double by Darrin Fletcher in the sixth preceded the double by Grebeck, who's listed at 5 feet 7. Canseco homered in the seventh, and Cruz added a run-scoring triple to raise a few more welts on Mussina's line.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: SkyDome, Toronto

Time: 7: 05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Juan Guzman (10-15, 4.19) vs. Blue Jays' Kelvim Escobar (6-3, 3.77)

Pub Date: 9/23/98

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