Youth no help to O's in sixth straight loss Four rookies, four errors ease Red Sox's way, 8-3

defeat is 10th in last 11

September 26, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Faced with an off-season of renovation and accompanying uncertainty, the Orioles made a declarative statement last night in a nothing game at Fenway Park.

This season has literally become a loss.

A peach-fuzz lineup playing behind September surprise Chris Fussell (0-1) suffered the club's sixth consecutive loss, an 8-3 trouncing by the Boston Red Sox.

Fussell lasted only five outs and his Triple-A backing committed four errors. The grotesque fallout guaranteed the 78-82 Orioles their first losing season since 1995 and their most losses since suffering 95 in 1991.

"It ticks me off and I don't like any part of it," snapped manager Ray Miller, whose team is now 0-5 on its road trip, with two day games remaining, "We've talked a lot about accountability. Certainly, I'm accountable, but so are the players. I'll take some of the blame, but I won't take it all.

"When I leave Baltimore to go back to Ohio, things are going to be taken care of. It'll all be straightened out."

Miller stopped himself there. He has become infuriated by the complacency accompanying the season's final days and said earlier in the week that he may press for deeper personnel changes than have already been suggested.

For the first time this season, the Orioles played in a game of absolutely no significance for either team. The Red Sox clinched the AL wild card Thursday night.

Miller tried to sever a string of indifferent performances by injecting four rookies plus reserves Lyle Mouton and Jeff Reboulet into the game.

The day after homering twice, left fielder B. J. Surhoff would have missed his first game of the season if not for a ninth-inning, pinch-hit appearance. Second baseman Jerry Hairston replaced Roberto Alomar, who was scratched only moments prior to the first pitch.

The Baby Birds couldn't shake the tendencies of their veteran teammates. The loss was the Orioles' 10th in 11 games, matching their worst 11-game stretch of the season.

One of the few positive performances was turned in by Eric Davis, who singled twice in four at-bats to increase his average to .327.

Hairston suffered a nightmare evening in place of Alomar. He threw away a relay on Keith Mitchell's first-inning grounder and dropped Jason Varitek's third-inning pop fly.

He also went 0-for-4 with one strikeout against Red Sox knuckleball starter Tim Wakefield (17-8).

"I had a bad game," Hairston said. "You try not to think about it and go on, but it's hard. I had a bad game. That's about all I can say. I hope I have a lot more because that'll mean I'm still playing."

Miller said he will start his regulars the last two days behind Scott Erickson and Mike Mussina. The Orioles need to mix in a win to avoid their fourth eight-game losing streak of the season.

No. 6 was over almost before it started. Fussell had surrendered five runs in eight innings in two previous outings, including a competent start against the Texas Rangers Sept. 15.

This time, he amplified the abbreviated appearances of Juan Guzman and Sidney Ponson the previous two nights by surviving only 1 2/3 innings.

Fussell bruised himself with five walks while allowing three hits, including Mo Vaughn's first-inning bomb to open the game's scoring.

He gave way to Doug Drabek, who made his first appearance in more than two weeks and perhaps the last of a distinguished major-league career.

He fared slightly better than Fussell, allowing three earned runs while getting seven outs. Drabek, who began the season as Miller's No. 4 starter, will finish it with a 7.29 ERA.

Orioles today

Opponent: Boston Red Sox

Site: Fenway Park, Boston

Time: 1: 15 p.m.

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

Starters: Orioles' Scott Erickson (15-13, 4.05) vs. Red Sox's Bret Saberhagen (15-7, 3.92)

Pub Date: 9/26/98

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