Tigers add extra angst to lost year

5-2 defeat in 11 innings irks O's along with outs on bases, strategy

Early Bones hook burns 'pen

DeShields HRs to tie it in 7th, just misses in 9th

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

A different sort of countdown now preoccupies the bruised Orioles. What once was a far-fetched hope for running down the American League wild card has been replaced by counting the number of games remaining in their lost season.

Yesterday's 5-2, 11-inning loss to the Detroit Tigers before 44,474 at Camden Yards featured two costly base-running blunders, a curiously abbreviated start by Ricky Bones, a lack of timely hitting and another round of mumbled questions about managerial tactics.

The loss left the Orioles with a split of their four-game series, dropping them to 4-3 this season against the American League's worst team.

If the Orioles had left on a recent West Coast trip still in denial about their playoff chances, they departed last night irritated by curious base running, manager Ray Miller's decision to limit Bones to 54 pitches covering 3 2/3 innings, and the inevitability of an underachieving season.

When asked about Miller's quick hook, Bones smiled and hesitated. "I was surprised but I've said before that I respect every decision and every move the manager makes. He's the boss," Bones finally said. "You don't want to come out either way, whether you're doing good or doing bad. I thought I threw the ball pretty good."

Bones' early departure didn't decide the game but it may have further inflamed feelings among a disaffected veteran staff. A pitcher other than Bones questioned Miller's pitch count. Bones admitted afterward he was not informed of Miller's "60- or 70-pitch" prescription. As a result, he greeted his manager with a disbelieving expression and arms crossed when removed in favor of Jim Corsi with two on and two outs.

"I don't expect anyone to be happy," said Miller. "We were going to hold Ricky to 60 or 70 pitches. He was at 59 and I thought he was getting the ball up. [Bill] Haselman was 6-for-9 with three homers off him. That's a pretty good reason."

Their record now at 49-62, the Orioles appear dogged by perverse fortune. Whatever good they manufacture is typically followed by a misstep or flawed fundamental that leaves them groping for explanations or, as was the case yesterday, merely enraged.

Belle doubled twice but tagged late during a potential game-winning rally in the eighth inning and was thrown out at third by Tigers right fielder Gabe Kapler.

Center fielder Brady Anderson singled three times. However, he never scored and ran into his team's first out after a costly miscommunication with third base coach Sam Perlozzo. He was also charged with his first error during the Tigers' game-breaking rally.

The improving Orioles bullpen followed Bones with 6 1/3 shutout innings but eventually absorbed the loss when Scott Kamieniecki (1-4) "hit a wall" in the 11th inning, according to Miller. The Tigers used two hit batters, three singles, a well-executed squeeze bunt and errors by Anderson and Mike Bordick to score three runs. Closer Mike Timlin finished the inning, leaving Doug Johns the only reliever spared duty.

So the Orioles begin a six-game road trip to Tampa Bay and Cleveland desperately needing a strong start tonight from Jason Johnson.

Second baseman Delino DeShields at least allowed the smoldering Bones to sidestep a loss by tying the game with a 420-foot two-run home run onto Eutaw Street in the seventh inning.

But DeShields also endured frustration. He was robbed of at least one RBI by Tigers left fielder Juan Encarnacion in the fourth inning and came within five feet of winning the game with a drive to center field in the ninth. Overlooked and even booed this season, DeShields was then greeted with a standing ovation by those behind the home dugout.

The Orioles had threatened to break out against Tigers starter Brian Moehler in the first inning. Anderson led off with a single and Bordick followed by lining a double down the left-field line. Perlozzo quickly found himself in "no man's land." As he tried to determine where the ball would ricochet, Anderson was bearing down on third.

With no one out, Anderson assumed he would not be sent home. Perlozzo, one of the game's best at such reads, appeared to wave him then called for Anderson to stop.

"I've got my eyes locked on that ball. He's coming to me. It's a timing situation. When I asked him to stop it was too late," Perlozzo said.

"I went because I was sent," said Anderson.

Bones allowed a third-inning home run to Tigers shortstop Deivi Cruz and a two-out RBI single to Encarnacion that brought on his surprise ouster.

"I think they wanted to pursue it that way. They don't want me to burn out out there," said Bones, anointed by Miller to take Juan Guzman's spot after his July 31 trade to Cincinnati.

Tied in the eighth inning, Belle gave the Orioles a chance to take their first lead with a leadoff double. Will Clark followed with a drive that carried just short of the right-field warning track.

Belle was late retreating to the bag. He retouched after Kaplan's catch but was beaten by the throw. Clark, who curtly shooed away reporters after the game, screamed his displeasure either at Belle or Perlozzo after the play. Jeff Conine followed with a blast to the center-field fence that only served as the inning's last out.

"Albert was a half-step late tagging up and thought he could make it. The guy threw him out. It's costly, I guess, because it's a tie game in the ninth," Miller said.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site: Tropicana Field

Time: 7: 05

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jason Johnson (3-5, 5.40) vs. Devil Rays' Ryan Rupe (5-6, 4.66) Pub Date: 8/09/99

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