Bell tolls for Orioles, ringing up final loss

Near no-hitter can't save season-ender, 1-0

Miller awaits fate

October 04, 1999|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Time finally ran out on a season and likely an era yesterday as the Orioles flirted with a no-hitter before a laborious offensive showing sentenced them and manager Ray Miller to a 10-inning, 1-0 loss against the Boston Red Sox.

Most of an announced Camden Yards crowd of 47,567 stayed to see Mike Bordick swing through a Tim Wakefield knuckleball for the final out of a 78-84 season.

The Orioles won one game fewer this year than last despite a second-half surge that twice brought them within a game of .500 and briefly caused ownership to debate the merit of Miller's dismissal, but ultimately left the season a failed one.

Majority owner Peter Angelos intends to speak with Miller today. The two maintained a close relationship throughout a turbulent season, but every indication has pointed toward a change.

Should the Orioles announce the move today, it will be couched as a failure to assume the option year on Miller's contract. The manager is not expected to attend any news conference.

"The season's over. We've seen the young people. We've seen what we have," Miller said. "Obviously, there are some big decisions to make here, including me, and that will all be done pretty soon."

The majority of Miller's coaching staff remains in limbo, but at least respected hitting coach Terry Crowley will be retained, according to a club source.

Third base coach Sam Perlozzo and first base coach Marv Foley are expected to receive an interview as possible successor.

This was no ordinary game, as three Orioles pitchers combined for 7 2/3 no-hit innings before Jim Corsi surrendered a right-field flare to second baseman Jeff Frye.

Starting pitcher Scott Kamieniecki was ejected for brushing back Troy O'Leary one pitch after throwing behind him in the fourth inning. O'Leary also was tossed for flinging his bat toward the mound. In turn, Kamieniecki flipped the bat toward several Red Sox players, who were leaving the dugout.

Meanwhile, eight Red Sox pitchers were dealing a 12-strikeout six-hitter that extended the Orioles' scoreless streak to 21 innings.

The loss left the home team with consecutive shutouts for the first time since June 18-20, 1997, when the Orioles were in the midst of a wire-to-wire run toward the AL East championship. Yesterday's defeat dropped them to 15-34 within their division. No team in either league struggled so badly in its division.

The $84 million Orioles won on Opening Day and never again floated above .500 as a 6-16 April snowballed into a 36-51 first half.

The Orioles must decide before Thursday whether to pick up or reject Miller's option for next season. It is considered a fait accompli that the option will not be assumed and Miller's association with a club he has served as player, coach and manager for parts of three decades will be terminated.

Club officials have declined to comment on the decision's timing, but it is believed that Miller will learn his fate today to expedite the search for his successor.

Miller offered no post-game homilies or predictions about his situation. He spoke with several younger players, including Eugene Kingsale and Jesse Garcia, before the game and accepted their thanks for playing opportunities.

After the game, Miller met with several coaches and Kamieniecki, none of whom is certain where he will be next season.

Asked the inevitable, Miller had a ready answer about his future: "That will be taken care of in 72 hours, young man. They have to let me know, one way or the other, in 72 hours."

Angelos and general manager Frank Wren have already compiled a list of potential successors. Chicago Cubs manager Jim Riggleman, Atlanta Braves hitting coach Don Baylor, retiring Colorado Rockies manager Jim Leyland and former Milwaukee Brewers manager Phil Garner are the leading candidates, according to a source familiar with the situation.

"Significant" managerial experience will be a prerequisite, according to a club source, apparently eliminating Orioles bench coach Eddie Murray from the mix.

The Orioles may have been shut out, but they tried to settle a score with their playoff-bound opponents. Kamieniecki hit the game's second hitter, John Valentin, who waited for almost a minute before taking his base. Plate umpire Tim McClelland provided an escort.

Miller described the incident as an "unfortunate thing" that had nothing to do with last Monday's plunking of Brady Anderson by Red Sox ace Pedro Martinez.

Kamieniecki, named yesterday's emergency starter after volunteering Saturday, buzzed O'Leary three innings later. Kamieniecki neither admitted nor denied anything, but quipped: "I guess some things have happened between us the last 1 1/2 weeks. By some coincidence, the resin bags in the bullpen are more effective than the one they put on the mound.

"A couple pitches slipped."

Statistics only complicate any assessment of a season that cost ownership more than $1 million a win. The Orioles led the league in defense, ranked fourth in pitching and sixth in hitting while setting the club record for base hits, tying a 2-year-old club record in doubles and hitting 203 home runs.

In return for outscoring, outhitting and outpitching their opponents, the Orioles buckled in the first half under spotty starting pitching and a torched bullpen.

"There's always somewhat of an empty feeling when you end any season without reaching the postseason," said Anderson. " I know in '96 and '97 there was a sense of accomplishment that's missing."

Said injured first baseman Will Clark: "We know what we've got for next season. And we showed what we could do in the second half [42-33]. That's enough for me to be optimistic."

Pub Date: 10/04/99

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