Orioles drop 2 to White Sox

Misplayed pop loses opener, 4-3

passed ball caps sweep, 8-5

Anderson: 2 leadoff homers

Figga's long day of errors ends in 10th

August 22, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

The longest day of their endless season concluded yesterday with the Orioles suffering dual losses to the Chicago White Sox in a day-night doubleheader at Camden Yards. A 4-3 loss in the afternoon followed by a 10-inning, 8-5 defeat at night underscored what long ago became a fundamentally flawed situation.

Third strikes bounced past rookie catcher Mike Figga, a misjudged pop-up and the failure to produce in critical situations provided the framework for the afternoon game, which the Orioles threatened to break open at several junctures only to lose in an eighth-inning rally. A flare that fell to the infield side of retreating rookie third baseman Ryan Minor provided the frustrating end in a loss that provided a mix of squandered scoring chances and curious defense.

In two games lasting a combined 6: 42, five of the Orioles' eight runs came on bases-empty home runs. Their other 16 hits produced three runs as they stranded 22 runners.

"The bottom line is we left nine men on base in the last five innings [in the second game]. We had plenty of shots to drive in runs, we just didn't get the big hit," said manager Ray Miller. "In the first game we were just one swing away from breaking it open. You have to be fundamentally sound. We had two very close ballgames and fundamentally we messed up some things."

The day-night arrangement served as a makeup for Friday's postponement and at least allowed center fielder Brady Anderson the opportunity to become only the third player in major-league history to lead off both ends of a doubleheader with a home run.

The Orioles managed the opening loss despite a six-inning, 10-hit start from recent Rochester promotee Doug Linton and home runs from Anderson, Jeff Conine and Minor. They were beaten by 3 1/3 perfect innings from the White Sox bullpen, a failure to exploit mid-game scoring chances and ham-fisted fielding.

The White Sox, who have won eight of their last 10 games, received extra outs when two of Linton's four strikeouts got past Figga for wild pitches. They also took extra bases on Figga's second-inning throwing error and Delino DeShields' missed tag on Magglio Ordonez's fifth-inning double.

"They take a base on a throwing error and score a run. They reach on a strikeout and score a run. And they hit a pop-up to the infield and score a run," recited Miller, his team 11 games behind last season's 79-83 pace. "I wasn't happy with some of the things that happened. We had a guy dead at second and didn't put the tag on him."

Figga, preferred by management who released pending free agent Lenny Webster, is still handicapped by two months of sitting on the New York Yankees' bench. He has averaged 4 1/2 at-bats per week with the Orioles while trying to rediscover proper throwing technique.

"I've already written off this year. When I went to New York I hoped that I could salvage something out of it. But after the first two weeks sitting on the bench in New York I wrote it off," he said.

The combination of White Sox center fielder Chris Singleton and third baseman Craig Wilson worked for three of their four Game 1 runs. The most hurtful came in the fourth inning when Singleton reached on Linton's wild-pitch strikeout and scored on Wilson's one-out double.

"Figga's never caught me. After the second [wild pitch] we talked about it and he asked me where he should set up on the curveball," Linton said. "It's a learning experience for him and me."

Figga hopes to spend part of his off-season playing winter ball. Should the Orioles not be willing to keep him on their major-league roster next season they must first expose him to waivers.

"I need to do something with the opportunities I have before the end of the year," said Figga. "I need for them to have confidence in my ability to hit the ball and to have confidence that I can play."

The Orioles, 11-21 in one-run games, left seven runners in the fifth, sixth and seventh innings of the opener when they were hitless in five at-bats with runners in scoring position. The second game represented the 11th time this season they've lost after leading through seven innings.

"I expected more offense," said Miller of the first game. "We didn't get anything when it counted."

An RBI flare by White Sox catcher Brook Fordyce just beyond the infield represented the game-changing event in the eighth.

With two outs and pinch runner Brian Simmons at second base, Fordyce lifted a pop directly beyond Minor. After sprinting away from home plate, Minor turned to discover the ball had dropped in front of him.

"It was a play I definitely should have made," Minor said. "Right off the bat I thought it was hit a lot farther than it went. Then when I overran it I looked back and couldn't find it."

In the second game, Anderson's leadoff home run started a three-run first inning off Mike Sirotka that negated the White Sox's three-run breakout against Orioles starter Sidney Ponson.

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