O's still upset by Yan's pitch that sailed behind Conine

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Hargrove: `It was a gutless thing for a guy to do'

April 21, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- A victory and a night's sleep didn't ease the irritation felt by some Orioles over a pitch from Tampa Bay closer Esteban Yan that sailed behind Jeff Conine in the 13th inning of Friday night's game.

Conine took a few steps toward the mound before Devil Rays catcher Toby Hall stepped in front of him. He glared at Yan, a former Oriole chosen by the Devil Rays in the expansion draft, as plate umpire Marty Foster issued warnings to both dugouts.

Manager Mike Hargrove bolted from his seat and was visibly upset while confronting Foster, but play resumed without incident. Yan remained in the game and gave up a single to Conine

"He so blatantly threw at Jeff," Hargrove said. "That really was a flashpoint, and [Foster] did the right thing. I thought he should have kicked the guy out of the game because it was so obvious he threw at Jeff. He had every right to eject him, but he chose not to and that was our bone of contention."

Yan, whose fastball reaches the upper 90s, still was upset about a balk call that moved Jerry Hairston to third and led to a tie-breaking run on Chris Singleton's sacrifice fly.

"It was a gutless thing for a guy to do. Absolutely gutless," Hargrove said.

Lineup unchanged

The Orioles' lineup last night was unchanged from Friday. Singleton again batted second, where he hoped to improve an .091 average. He was 2-for-4 last night to raise his average to .119.

"It's definitely a test of my faith," Singleton said of his prolonged slump.

"I'll continue to go to the plate and continue to keep battling. I'm not going to back down. I'm not going to crawl in a corner and hide. I'm going to keep fighting this thing and go out there and do my best. That's the bottom line."

David Segui didn't start again last night because of a sore right knee but said he could have played.

Recovered from marathon

Both teams seemed to have recovered from Friday night's 14-inning marathon, though it was much easier for the Orioles to move forward after winning on Brook Fordyce's suicide squeeze bunt.

Fordyce pushed the ball to the right side of the infield to easily score Tony Batista from third. Hargrove thought about trying the squeeze in the 13th, but he let Singleton swing away. The decision proved correct when Singleton's sacrifice fly gave the Orioles a 5-4 lead before Bobby Smith homered off Jorge Julio in the bottom half to again tie the game.

"With the way we've been going, we'll take them any way we can get them," Hargrove said of the win, the Orioles' fifth in 16 games. "We've been struggling and we needed that."

Hargrove decided to have Fordyce bunt with a 1-1 count against Devil Rays reliever Jesus Colome, whose fastball is regularly clocked at 98 mph.

"It was a gamble, and it paid off this time. I don't like to do it very often," Hargrove said.

"Your hands start sweating, and you get all the normal reactions of panic. They don't call it suicide squeeze for nothing. If we don't execute it, then we're in trouble, plain and simple. If you do execute it, it's a good play and always pumps everybody up."

Hargrove said the idea was his own. "My head was completely empty so it just popped in there," he said.

Asked what it's like to bunt against a hard-thrower like Colome, whose fastball has reached triple digits, Fordyce said, "Close your eyes and let me throw a ball at you."

Around the horn

Some injured Orioles have taken a break from rehabbing at the minor-league complex in Sarasota, Fla., to join the team at Tropicana Field. Pat Hentgen remains ahead of schedule while recovering from ligament-transplant surgery in his right elbow. "He's throwing the ball extremely well. His arm strength is good," Hargrove said. ... Reliever Chris Brock, on the disabled list with a sore shoulder, received a cortisone shot last week and was headed to Sarasota, where he's expected to remain for at least two weeks.

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