Jays make quick work of O's, 1-0

Makeup possibility, Ripken's 0-for-24 cloud weekend party

Union, league at odds over tie

Worn Iron Man makes 2 errors

farewell set Thursday-Saturday

October 02, 2001|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

Even as Orioles third baseman Cal Ripken and his expectant hometown were moving one day closer to this weekend's three-day celebration of the Iron Man's career, Major League Baseball and the players union took conflicting stances yesterday whether the Orioles could potentially complete their season next Monday in New York.

Last night's 1-0 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays before 37,108 at Camden Yards assumed secondary status to Baltimore's approaching festival, in addition to a possible showdown between labor and management.

New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said he was informed by MLB officials that the possibility of makeup games existed after the Orioles and Yankees played to a 15-inning, 1-1 tie Sunday.

A Yankees rainout against the Boston Red Sox and the Orioles tie would be made up to determine postseason seeding between the Yankees and Cleveland Indians.

Though the Orioles represent only extras in the potential drama, Ripken's farewell game hangs in the balance. If the Yankees finish the season with the same number or one fewer loss than the Indians, the commissioner's office believes the American League East champions should have to make up a rainout against the Red Sox and potentially the Orioles in a bizarre Oct. 8 doubleheader in New York. The Division Series begin Oct. 9.

The Blue Jays offered less room for interpretation last night. Starting pitcher Esteban Loaiza (11-11) and Billy Koch combined to leave the Orioles with their 13th shutout of the season after right fielder Jose Cruz Jr. accounted for the game's only score with a 400-foot home run in the sixth inning.

Rookie right-hander Rick Bauer (0-4), currently projected to start Saturday's game, suffered another undeserved loss in return for seven innings in which he allowed seven hits and one walk. His consolation prize is a place in the Orioles' considerations for next season.

"He's positioning himself; he really is," manager Mike Hargrove said. "How strongly, I really don't know. ... A lot of it depends on what we do this off-season and what we have available going into spring training. At the very least, he gives us depth and options."

Bauer, unimpressed with moral victories, said: "Up here, it's all about winning. In the minors, you want to do well. But up here, it's about winning so I've got to do whatever it takes. I want to go out and give my team every opportunity to win games."

Bauer would have had to be mistake-free to accomplish the goal last night.

The shutout extended the Orioles' scoreless streak to 18 innings. It also extended a tough stretch for an admittedly worn Ripken, who suffered his first two-error game since April 15, 1999, one day after his first four-strikeout performance since May 2, 1984. Ripken's 0-for-4 against Loaiza and Koch left him 0-for-24 in his past six games. He has not endured such a profound slump since 1988 when he had eight straight hitless games.

Ripken admitted Sunday night that his exit has become increasingly tangible. It has been reinforced regularly with ceremonies on each road trip and now looms ever larger. Ripken found it difficult to sleep Saturday night, and the next five days offer him little emotional rest.

"When you play a game that requires the focus that this level does, you don't want to let your emotions go up and down," Ripken said Saturday. "My emotions have been bouncing around pretty good the last few days."

The Orioles plan to begin formally honoring Ripken on Thursday night in a three-day procession that will include former teammates, managers and opponents. The club has revealed only part of its plans to Ripken but it is certain the ceremonies will be more evocative than the Yankees' under- whelming presentation Sunday when seats were divided between individuals and corporations.

"It will be a three-day celebration with different components," Orioles public relations director Bill Stetka said. "Beyond that, we'd like to keep some surprises."

For now, the Orioles and their fans aren't guaranteed that Ripken's final game will be at Camden Yards. The club, meanwhile, has formed a silent bond with the union's cause.

Major League Baseball Players Association associate general counsel Gene Orza insists such makeups are a violation of a provision in the Basic Agreement that stipulates games may not be made up in order to determine seeding.

"The Yankees are not going to be playing on Monday. We've had a clear understanding that we don't utilize the one day off before playoffs to resolve questions of seeding," Orza told ESPN.com.

The commissioner's office agrees games can't be made up to break ties for the purpose of determining seeding; however, it also contends the issue becomes complicated when one team plays fewer games than another. Representatives from the commissioner's office and the union held preliminary discussions about the issue yesterday but will wait to see how the matter evolves before seeking resolution.

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