Nomo, Sox no easier on O's, 10-1

Mora ends thoughts of another no-hitter with 2nd-inning bunt

In end: 6 innings, 4 hits

Daubach tees off again with 5 RBIs

Ponson is battered

April 11, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

BOSTON - Whether it's a fluke, a contagion or simply a remade team trying to find its legs, April became uglier for the Orioles last night at Fenway Park.

The good news for the Orioles was they avoided placing Red Sox starting pitcher Hideo Nomo alongside Johnny Vander Meer in baseball lore. The bad news was they again found it almost impossible to put one hit behind another. The worse news was their starting pitcher collapsed in a 10-1 wipeout.

While he didn't throw another no-no, Nomo (2-0) was able to hold the Orioles to one run and four hits through six innings. First baseman Brian Daubach merely blasted starter Sidney Ponson (0-2) and reliever Calvin Maduro for three hits worth 10 total bases and five RBIs.

Offered manager Mike Hargrove of his team's offensive brownout: "I obviously don't like it and hope it changes tomorrow. But if we start panicking and worrying this early, it's going to be a long, long summer."

It's been a long nine days. The Orioles have scored 15 runs while their pitching staff has sculpted a 3.09 ERA in spite of last night's wreck. They have scored three runs in one inning and produced back-to-back hits six times.

"You want to hit the ball hard," said first baseman David Segui, whose 1-for-3 night offered signs of life. "Hitting the ball hard doesn't guarantee hits, but it puts you in better position to get them, that's for sure.

"When you start focusing on getting hits, that's when you stay in a slump longer. You've got to focus on just trying to put the bat on the ball and hit it hard. Human nature says, `I gotta get a hit. I gotta get a hit.' Then you become impatient."

Hargrove has grown impatient with the familiar line of questioning. He retains faith in a lineup hitting .170 with one home run in seven games because he knows 155 more remain.

"I think I've seen our guys overswing at times. I didn't see that a lot in spring training. I think our guys are trying to do too much. All clubs and hitters have a tendency to do that," said Hargrove. "It takes some hitters longer than others to settle in. If we're still talking about this in June, we've got a big problem.

"You look at the people we put on the field. A lot of them are the young kids. They've got good strokes. They've hit in the minor leagues; they've hit in spring training and, in some cases they've hit in the big leagues. The veterans we've surrounded them with ... are proven major-league hitters. It'll change."

Nomo needed 84 pitches to clear six innings, walking as many as he struck out one start after striking out 11 vs. three walks. The Orioles have pushed two runners to third in 15 innings against him this month.

"The two times we've seen him, he's been very good," said Hargrove. "Tonight he didn't have the command of his pitches he had at our place last week. He made pitches when he had to. I think we hit one ball hard off him. He was behind a lot of hitters, which was different, but he made pitches."

Center fielder Melvin Mora ended Nomo's run at a second straight no-hitter by dropping a one-out bunt toward third base in the second inning. It was the Orioles' first hit in 32 at-bats.

The Orioles were forced to measure the night in small victories. Chris Richard managed their first swinging hit off Nomo with a fourth-inning single to right field. Mike Bordick even stirred the Red Sox's bullpen in the sixth when he doubled home Brady Anderson for his team's first run in 14 innings.

Mostly, the game was another chapter in Ponson's struggle for consistency and an offense's search for potency.

Ponson, frequently overpowering, but just as often baffling to his own team, got six of his 10 outs on strikeouts. In between, he allowed six hits, four for extra bases, walked two and hit a batter.

"He'll be better next time," promised Hargrove.

Daubach might be headed for the Hall of Fame if Major League Baseball decides to further unbalance its schedule.

A 27-year-old rookie in 1999, he scorched the Orioles for four home runs and 12 RBIs in only 37 at-bats last season. Already this year, he has punished them for four homers and eight RBIs in 14 at-bats. Ten of his 46 career home runs have come against the Orioles. He has 15 more games to go this season.

Few roads to the major leagues have been as convoluted as Daubach's. A former replacement player with the New York Mets, he was later released by the Florida Marlins, became a minor-league free agent and was prepared to take his career to Japan before a recommendation from former Orioles roving hitting instructor Dave Jauss moved Boston general manager Dan Duquette to sign him.

"Ponson's always pitched well against us. I just got some pitches to handle tonight," said Daubach, who has three home runs in six at-bats against Ponson this season.

"All their left-handers go at the Green Monster pretty good," said Ponson. "You have to understand that's the game the left-handers play here. They want to go over there. You have to make adjustments and I didn't do that tonight."

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