Run stop sign arrests O's in 9th, 1-0

Mora ignores coach in bid to tie

Mariners spoil 3-hit Bauer debut

September 03, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Of the three hits given up yesterday by Orioles rookie Rick Bauer, only one left the infield. It kept on going, its flight interrupted by the other side of the center-field fence.

Orioles shortstop Melvin Mora also kept going, his progress halted by the tag of Seattle Mariners catcher Dan Wilson at home plate that prevented the tying run from scoring in the ninth inning.

One bad pitch, one bad decision.

It added up to one more road victory for the Mariners, who used a home run by Bret Boone and a clutch outfield assist to hand the Orioles their fourth shutout in the past nine games, 1-0, before 45,359 at Camden Yards.

Trying to score on Cal Ripken's single, Mora ran through third base coach Tom Trebelhorn's stop sign and became the second out. A fly ball by Tony Batista that would have brought in the tying run instead sealed the Orioles' 10th loss in their past 12 games and kept Seattle undefeated in 23 road series this season.

"I saw the hands go up," Mora said. "If I had stopped, they were going to catch me at third base."

That's because Mora didn't pick up Trebelhorn's signal until too late. And because he hesitated before reaching third, unsure if left fielder Mark McLemore would make the catch. And because, with the Orioles unable to generate any semblance of offense on a 1-8 homestand, Mora felt compelled to do more than the situation would allow.

"No runner coming at that speed can stop right away," he said. "In my mind, I was thinking to score. In the last 15 games, 20 games, 30 games, I know we haven't scored too many runs, so we have to make something happen."

McLemore moved from shortstop to left field in the seventh, after Boone's 32nd homer in the top half of the inning ruined Bauer's bid for a shutout in the right-hander's major-league debut. The former Oriole didn't have a ball hit to him until the ninth, after Mariners closer Kazuhiro Sasaki allowed a leadoff single to Mora and threw a wild pitch.

Jeff Conine walked with one out, and Ripken followed with a flare into left field that McLemore fielded on one hop. Mora tried to slide around Wilson's tag, but was ruled out by plate umpire Ed Montague, who was knocked down on the play.

"I thought I could beat it. If I thought I was going to be out at home, I wouldn't go," Mora said.

"When I saw the outfield and McLemore was in left field, he doesn't have the kind of arm like [Mike] Cameron or Ichiro [Suzuki]. I'm going to continue to play aggressive."

Knowing that Mora was in trouble the instant he went past, Trebelhorn chose to avert his eyes.

"Melvin got a good break on contact, but then became concerned the ball might be caught," Trebelhorn said. "He stopped, did a semi-pirouette, came flying into third, at which point I verbally and physically indicated for him not to go any farther. At which point he passed me and went much farther. I didn't look, but I prayed the throw would be off-line. It wasn't and he was out. Game, match.

"These things happen. He was trying to score. From where the ball was, I'm sure in his mind he thought he could beat it. Whether he saw me or not, whether he heard me or not, I don't know, but, in his mind and heart, he felt he could score. Players always have the right to express themselves, and he expressed himself."

So did manager Mike Hargrove, who has grown tired of seeing outs made at the plate because Trebelhorn's raised arms either are missed or ignored.

"I didn't watch Melvin. I watched the ball to see how McLemore was going to play it. I picked Melvin up just as he was getting to the bag. I was surprised he wasn't farther along than that," Hargrove said.

"Obviously, he did run through the stop sign. Tom Trebelhorn is there for a reason. I'm not just picking on Melvin. We've had a few runners this year run through stop signs. We need to understand he's there for a purpose."

The Orioles lost a chance to score off Seattle's Joel Pineiro in the fourth inning, when Suzuki fielded Brady Anderson's two-out single and threw out Conine, who was sent home by Trebelhorn. They had stranded two runners in scoring position in the third, and 12 straight batters were retired after Anderson's hit.

Called up for the first time to join an expanded September roster, Bauer no longer was involved in a scoreless tie after Boone jumped on his 90-mph fastball in the seventh. After three more batters, two of them walks, he wasn't even involved in the game. By that time, however, his major-league debut couldn't be tarnished.

Win or lose, he had made quite an impression, along with a pretty strong argument for his inclusion in any plans for the 2002 rotation.

"He threw strikes and got ahead of the hitters," Hargrove said. "He threw a number of first-pitch strikes and had good movement on his ball. Ed Montague, when I came back off the field after taking Bauer out, said he was very impressed with the kid, that he had really good stuff. That's nice to hear, because umpires don't normally offer those opinions."

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