O's all wet in 2-1 loss in Game 1

Orosco's walk scores Marlins winner in 9th of 5-hour `monsoon'

Mussina goes 5 before delay

O's supplant Florida as 2nd worst in majors

June 09, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MIAMI -- The Orioles endured two rain delays, an artificially shortened start by Mike Mussina and the predictable anxiety of four innings from their bullpen last night. In return for 5: 18 of water torture, they absorbed a 2-1 loss in the opener of a doubleheader against the Florida Marlins because a stop-and-start offense again stopped and Jesse Orosco couldn't throw strikes to an unheralded lineup.

Orosco's two-out walk of second baseman Luis Castillo capped the loss, which dropped the Orioles to 21-35 and behind the $18 million Marlins for the game's second-worst record.

Making matters worse, Orioles manager Ray Miller thought his team was about to benefit from a second rain delay before the National League umpiring crew ordered the game resumed.

Instead of a five-inning, 1-0 win and a feel-good finish for Mussina, the Orioles sunk to 14 games below .500 for the first time this year and wasted another solid outing by their ace.

"It's a shame a real shame," Miller said between games. "Moose should have about 10 wins by now."

The Marlins' ninth-inning run made a hard-luck loser of Mike Timlin (2-5), who entered the eighth with runners at second and third and none out. Orosco inherited a runner at first base then walked Tim Hyers, hit Dave Berg with a two-strike pitch to load the bases, then walked Castillo on a full count one pitch after a debatable checked swing extended the at-bat.

"He walked Hyers, a lefty, and he hit the guy to load the bases,"

Miller said. "He thought he got the guy on a checked swing but didn't get the call. We walked the bases loaded. Everything I feared happened. I lose my starter after five innings, we sit here for 19 hours in a monsoon with basically three pitchers to use."

The Marlins, whose six-game winning streak is the longest in the majors, average just 17,533 fans per game, second worst in the National League, but managed to outdo themselves for yesterday afternoon's hastily arranged makeup.

Just before the first pitch the Pro Player Stadium turnstile count remained in the dozens. Even the scheduled protest of the Orioles by four groups of Cuban exiles failed to pump the gate. Two protesters, one carrying a misspelled sign blasting Orioles majority owner Peter "Angelo," sat quietly in their second-level seats and granted interviews to South Florida media.

However, the issue of Angelos' "people-to-people" exchange couldn't overcome the weather as only about a dozen protesters stationed themselves opposite the stadium parking lot.

Miller referred to a heavy stream of angry mail from those offended by the Orioles' home-and-home exhibitions against Cuba, but was asked no questions by local media.

A 28-minute rain delay interrupted the first inning as Miller's desire to give Mussina a hassle-free outing fizzled. Had the Marlins not decided to postpone Monday's game Miller would likely have replaced his ace with fifth starter Jason Johnson.

As is, Mussina handled the first delay and the stadium mound with no problem. He allowed only one hit and two base runners through four innings while the Orioles groped for a run against Marlins starter Ryan Dempster.

Dempster, who began the season at Triple-A Calgary, allowed only three hits through 5 1/3 innings before a 2: 01 rain delay chased both he and Mussina. Dempster hadn't lost since May 17 and had won his last two starts by allowing two earned runs in 14 combined innings.

He held the Orioles hitless through three innings before B. J. Surhoff led off the fourth with his 11th home run. For Surhoff, who amassed a 15-game hitting streak last month, the blast extended his active streak to eight games and gave him 23 RBIs in the last 27 games.

The Orioles offense stopped there as they hit into three double plays and pushed only two runners to third base against four Marlins pitchers.

A win would have represented a slight payback for Mussina's recent road luck. Entering the game he was only 1-3 with a 5.72 in six road starts and had suffered crushing reversals in Cleveland, Oakland and Seattle because of an incendiary bullpen performance, lacking run support or, most recently, his manager's reluctance to extract him from a June 2 game against the Mariners despite a pitch count that grew to 133.

The Orioles' inability to convert Mussina's last two starts into wins made the difference between a 6-3 and 4-5 road trip.

In Mussina's previous eight starts, the Orioles led in the eighth inning seven times and were beaten 2-1 in the eighth game. Because he had gone only 5-2 in the stretch, Mussina had ceded his status as the game's highest-percentage pitcher to Boston Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.

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