Mariners solve Bauer, top O's, 6-1

Rookie roughed up after 1-0 loss in debut

September 09, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE - With nothing left to lose except 21 more games, the Orioles yesterday all but officially designated the rest of the season as a primer for next spring. Jose Mercedes' run at 20 losses officially ended during a meeting. First baseman David Segui returned to the bench with a balky left knee. A battery of Rick Bauer and Geronimo Gil brought one game of major-league experience against the Seattle Mariners, who already had lost their game for the week.

Six days after suffering a 1-0 loss to the Mariners in his major-league debut, Bauer did what second-time starters usually do and the Mariners did what the best team in baseball usually does. The outcome was a 6-1 Mariners win before 45,894 at Safeco Field and another setback for an Orioles team seemingly destined for the black hole of 100 losses.

A 1-0 lead proved as fleeting as an Aaron Sele signing as Mariners right fielder Ichiro Suzuki used his speed on a single and steal to force a first-inning tie before his leadoff home run opened a breakout third. Suzuki established a Mariners single-season hit record (216) with his single. He made the outcome predictable with his seventh homer.

FOR THE RECORD - In some editions of Sunday's Sports section, a quote was incorrectly attributed to Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. The following actually was said by Orioles second baseman Jerry Hairston: "It's embarrassing. It's not fun. Winning is everything. When you win, you have fun. You don't want to get your butt kicked every night. At the same time, you've got to keep going out with a positive attitude. If you don't, you'll never improve."

The Orioles ended the first half able to boast they were nobody's foil. The past two months have transformed them into the league's pinata as they fell to 55-86 with their seventh consecutive loss and 13th in 14 games. Nothing less than an 8-13 finish will avert their first 100-loss season since 1988; however, the Orioles haven't won eight games in the past month.

"It's embarrassing. It's not fun," manager Mike Hargrove said. "Winning is everything. When you win, you have fun. You don't want to get your butt kicked every night. At the same time, you've got to keep going out with a positive attitude. If you don't, you'll never improve."

Bauer (0-2) lasted only eight outs against a six-hit assault interspersed with three walks while Mariners rookie starter Joel Pineiro (5-1) held the Orioles to three hits in 7 2/3 innings. Pineiro, reached for only 39 hits in 60 2/3 innings before last night, probably will be excluded from the Mariners' roster for the Division Series.

The Mariners blew open the game with a five-run third inning that included a misplay by second baseman Jerry Hairston.

Suzuki, the American League's mesmerizing batting leader, continued his dazzling run against the Orioles. Not only did Suzuki increase his hit total to 15 against the Orioles this season, he threw out Tony Batista at the plate to end the fifth inning.

By then, the Mariners had long since distorted the game and evicted Bauer in a third inning that turned on Hairston's premature exit from second base on a force.

Hairston and Hargrove took turns arguing the call with base umpire Mark Wenger but in the aftermath the bases were still loaded with none out. Mark McLemore's one-out sacrifice fly preceded a pair of two-out RBI singles.

"It's the umpire's call," Hargrove said. "They already had two runs. We only scored one."

While Hairston's misplay may have been primarily a mental lapse, Chris Richard's presence in right field exposed a serious physical problem. In the game for his bat, Richard could barely lift his left arm above his shoulder to throw. Several looped or one-hopped the infield from medium right field. Few sights this season have been as helpless as Richard's attempt to throw a ball 120 feet to his cutoff man. The Orioles appear at risk of having their dignity stripped along with fourth place.

"I've been diagnosed with tendinitis," said Richard, who said he has not undergone more than a preliminary examination since feeling pain Tuesday night in Oakland. "Last night it was really hurting but tonight it got worse.

"They know that's what they're going to get - what you saw tonight. It's up to them," Richard said. "We're kind of short right now. We need guys to play. I need to get my at-bats. I'm trying to get myself together."

Deleting Mercedes from the rotation leaves a rookie trio, Calvin Maduro and Jason Johnson, whose 75 major-league starts are more than the four others combined.

Truth to tell, it makes little difference who starts for the Orioles these days.

They've been held to five hits or fewer eight times since Aug. 24 and been outscored 88-23 during their 14-game dive. Last night's lineup featured four rookies, including Bauer, and only one hitter with an average above .262. (Orioles opponents are hitting .267.)

Instead of facing a team content with a runaway lead and 102 wins, the Orioles faced one compelled by history. The Mariners are 39-16 since the All-Star break and are only 14 shy of the major-league record held by the 1906 Cubs.

Against such motivation, the Orioles' collection of call-ups, walking wounded and pending retirees have little chance. Last night's loss dropped them to 0-12 at Safeco Field.

Ravens today

Opponent: Chicago Bears

Site: PSINet Stadium

Time: 1 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 45/WJFK (1300 AM), WQSR (105.7 FM)

Line: Ravens by 10

Inside

Sun staff writer Jamison Hensley analyzes the matchups. [Page 10d]

Ravens, Bears statistics, rosters. [Page 10d]

New-look Redskins open in San Diego. [Page 11d]

Sun staff writer Ken Murray looks at today's NFL games. [Page 12d]

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