In Texas, Orioles can expect runs aplenty, on both sides

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

7-6 loss Friday latest in run of high-scoring Texas wins

July 07, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

ARLINGTON, Texas - They say everything is bigger in Texas, and for the Orioles, that includes the scores.

Almost every time the Orioles play at The Ballpark in Arlington, it turns into a shootout.

On Friday night, the Orioles took a three-run lead into the bottom of the eighth inning and came away with a 7-6 defeat.

Alex Rodriguez hit a two-run homer off Orioles reliever Willis Roberts in the eighth inning, and the Rangers scored two more in the ninth against Orioles closer Jorge Julio. Frank Catalanotto's pinch-hit single scored Mike Lamb from second base with the winning run.

It was the Rangers' eighth consecutive victory against the Orioles, dating to last season and their 10th in the past 11 meetings at the Ballpark. In those 11 games, the Orioles have given up an average of 6.4 runs.

"A lot of the games we've played here in Texas, we've scored a lot of runs, but they have, too," manager Mike Hargrove said. "With the offense they've got, no lead is ever safe."

For the Orioles, the Ballpark is becoming another house of horrors, much like Safeco Field in Seattle, where they have won just once in 16 games.

"I don't know of many clubs that have better hitters one through nine than Seattle and Texas," Hargrove said. "Obviously, Seattle has a little more well-rounded offense. But any time you've got a lineup with Alex Rodriguez, [Juan] Gonzalez, [Rafael] Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez in the middle of it, that's pretty potent."

Conine eyes return

Jeff Conine said his right hamstring felt better Friday, and even though the Orioles probably won't activate him today, everyone is pointing to the first game back from the All-Star break, Thursday against the Oakland Athletics.

"It depends on what we get done in the next couple days," Conine said.

Conine, batting .262 with 10 home runs and 45 RBIs, injured the hamstring on June 15 legging out a triple against the Philadelphia Phillies.

"It's been phenomenally frustrating for me just watching," Conine said. "Anytime you can't come back as scheduled, I don't take it too well."

Richard has setback

The Orioles were hoping outfielder Chris Richard could return to the club within three weeks, but he was scratched from the lineup Friday night for Double-A Bowie and was expected to have his surgically repaired left shoulder re-examined.

Richard hit .265 with 15 home runs and 61 RBIs last season before having arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder in November. The Orioles are just hoping to have him back in a designated hitter/pinch-hitting capacity this season since his throwing ability is limited by the shoulder.

Stop sign

When Orioles catcher Geronimo Gil threw out Mike Young trying to steal second base Friday night, it marked the fifth consecutive base runner he had nabbed. The Orioles, for comparison, had stolen 12 consecutive bases at that point.

Besides the strength in Gil's throwing arm, Hargrove gives credit to the pitchers.

"Our release times are quicker," he said. "[Travis] Driskill is consistently 1.2 [seconds to home plate]. Other guys have slide steps that they've incorporated. It's something we've worked on and paid attention to. It's been a point of emphasis to get pitchers to vary and lessen their release times."

Hargrove nears milestone

After last night, Hargrove needs just one win to reach 900 for his career. He will become the 54th major-league manager to reach that mark.

Around the horn

Juan Gonzalez was ejected in the eighth inning last night after protesting a called third strike by home plate umpire Jeff Nelson. ... Palmeiro's home run Friday assured the former Oriole's 12th straight 20-homer season. Only Barry Bonds, in his 13th straight 20-homer season, has more among active players.

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