Rays roll 7 in 2nd

O's rally is no dice

Error, 3 Tampa homers do in Driskill again, 7-3

`tonight we gave it away'

August 20, 2002|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

The dog days of summer have definitely arrived for the Orioles. It's hot, it's almost football season, and Ravens opponents aren't the only ones putting sevens on the scoreboard.

With a game-time temperature of 100 degrees last night, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays scored seven runs off Orioles starter Travis Driskill in the second inning and coasted to a 7-3 victory before 24,578 at Camden Yards.

Only the Orioles, it seems, could turn an 11-game homestand against Detroit, Tampa Bay and Toronto into drudge work.

The Orioles are 11-19 against those three sub-.500 teams and are 18-12 against the four American League clubs that would be playoff-bound if the postseason started today: the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins, Seattle Mariners and Anaheim Angels.

But that is becoming a tired theme. This one went much deeper than that.

"We haven't given away a game in a long time," Orioles manager Mike Hargrove said. "Tonight, we gave it away in the second inning."

By his own admission, Driskill is having a difficult time pitching against teams the second time he faces them, and that trend continued.

The Devil Rays had three home runs against Driskill in the second inning alone. And even though he hung on to save some work for an exhausted bullpen, he still gave up 10 hits and seven runs - three earned - in 5 2/3 innings.

Driskill (8-6) has entrenched himself in the starting rotation as a 31-year-old rookie, but when he faces a team for a second time, he is 0-4 with a 6.88 ERA.

"I've got to figure out what adjustments I have to make," Driskill said, "And I have to make them before the other team makes theirs."

The adjustment Driskill tried making in the second inning backfired. He went away from his fastball after giving up back-to-back homers to Ben Grieve and Chris Gomez, deciding to feed the Devil Rays a steady diet of off-speed pitches.

"That," Hargrove said, "probably bothered me as much as anything [that inning]."

With two outs, Randy Winn, Carl Crawford and Aubrey Huff hit consecutive singles, and then Orioles third baseman Tony Batista made a throwing error on a grounder by Jared Sandberg.

Steve Cox came to the plate, and Driskill threw him five consecutive curveballs. Cox hit the last one an estimated 380 feet, with the ball nearly landing on Eutaw Street in front of the warehouse.

The smallest crowd at Camden Yards since May 29 groaned. Driskill also had two wild pitches in the inning on balls that skipped by catcher Geronimo Gil. Hargrove thought both of those were preventable. The manager got up from his seat and stood in the dugout with his arms crossed.

"You see things that start happening that are not typical of the players involved, or the ballclub," Hargrove said. "It's upsetting. It's frustrating. We play a lot of baseball, and you're going to have these types of innings. The whole thing is how you respond and react to them, and I thought we responded well."

Marty Cordova hit his 17th homer - a two-run shot off Devil Rays starter Paul Wilson - in the second inning, and Batista added his 23rd homer in the fourth.

But the Orioles managed just three other hits against Wilson (6-8) in eight innings.

Wilson is 4-1 against the Orioles and 2-7 against everyone else.

"I didn't think he was especially sharp tonight," Hargrove said. "We hit some balls hard off him. He was a lot better last time we saw him in Tampa [July 29], but he pitched well enough to win. You've got to give him credit for that."

Maybe it's not the time of year for the Orioles. Maybe it's the opponent.

Other teams treat the Devil Rays like their own personal pinatas, but the Orioles never seem to make enough contact to find anything sweet. Either that or the blindfold is tied tight.

The Devil Rays lead the season series with the Orioles 9-7. Tampa Bay doesn't lead a season series against any other American League team.

"That's baseball," said Orioles leadoff hitter Melvin Mora. "Sometimes teams like us will beat the best teams in the league, and then the worst teams will beat us. They play good against us, and they deserve to win."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Comcast SportsNet/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Devil Rays' Joe Kennedy (7-8, 4.13) vs. Orioles' Jason Johnson (4-9, 4.05)

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