Thin O's swept aside by Jays

Staff worn, Matthews out, Orioles beaten, 4-1, 8-3

Bauer lasts 6, yields 5, in 1st start

Decision on DL looms for outfielder, Erickson

August 25, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

With all the angst attached to Gary Matthews' injured wrist and Scott Erickson's swollen ERA, the Orioles figured to make a roster move between games of yesterday's doubleheader. The intrigue centered on which player would go on the disabled list.

Erickson met with manager Mike Hargrove and Syd Thrift, vice president for baseball operations, in the morning. Matthews visited a hand specialist shortly after noon. And an organization drew closer to a decision.

Choosing to do nothing, the Orioles lost two games but no players.

Once the Orioles determined they didn't need to create room for another pitcher, they provided Rick Bauer with his first start after 45 relief appearances. Bauer gave up five runs over six innings, and the Toronto Blue Jays completed their sweep with an 8-3 victory at Camden Yards.

The Blue Jays won the opener, 4-1, but Hargrove needed only one reliever, Yorkis Perez, after starter Travis Driskill went 5 1/3 innings. Had Bauer pitched in Game 1, the Orioles could have recalled Sean Douglass and optioned John Stephens to Triple-A Rochester. Douglass spent the night in Baltimore and watched Game 2 from the stands.

Trying to get above .500 for the first time since May 10, the Orioles (63-65) were busier off the field. Hargrove informed Erickson he would miss at least one start, but there are no immediate plans to put him on the DL.

Erickson's next turn will be skipped "at the very least," Hargrove said. "He's still struggling to find himself - his release point, his arm slot, a lot of stuff. We'll make some adjustments."

They'll extend to the lineup, which won't include Matthews for at least the next several days. Matthews strained his right wrist Thursday and aggravated the injury with his first swing in Friday's 11-7 victory.

"It's a little stiff and a little sore," he said.

"There's not a torn tendon," Hargrove said, "and there aren't any breaks that they know of. They really think it's a case of tendinitis."

Asked whether the club still could make a roster move involving Matthews, Hargrove said: "It's conceivable. We certainly don't want to DL him unless we have to."

The Orioles haven't scheduled a magnetic resonance imaging test.

"We're going to do a couple more X-rays and go from there," Matthews said. "Hopefully the swelling will go down. We're thinking maybe a few days or a week at the most."

Bauer (6-5) hadn't started since Cal Ripken's final game, Oct. 6. It began raining in the second inning after the Orioles scored twice in the first on an infield hit by Chris Richard and sacrifice fly by Jeff Conine.

Making his seventh major-league start, Bauer was cruising until the Blue Jays strung together five hits in the fourth, including a bases-empty homer by Chris Woodward and a two-run single by Tom Wilson. Vernon Wells hit a two-run shot off Bauer in the sixth, the ball striking the left-field foul pole, to increase Toronto's lead to 5-2.

Tony Batista homered off Esteban Loaiza in the sixth, giving him 150 for his career, but Toronto scored three runs in the seventh off Willis Roberts.

With his bullpen worn thin, Hargrove had to extend Bauer to 92 pitches. "I ran out of juice around the fifth inning," he said. "You've got to suck it up. I tried to keep us in the game as long as I could and eat up innings for the bullpen."

Hargrove wouldn't commit to another Bauer start, though he might be needed as Erickson's replacement. "Let's get through this day," Hargrove said. "Right now it's a one-shot deal."

With Matthews out, Chris Singleton will become more visible as the center fielder. He went 3-for-4 with an RBI after replacing Matthews on Friday, and scored in the first inning of Game 1 after tripling to right off Toronto's Pete Walker.

A grounder by Richard gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead, which Driskill held until the fifth. Coming off a rough outing against Tampa Bay on Monday, Driskill (8-7) got within a strike of preserving his shutout before rookie Eric Hinske lined a run-scoring double into the right-field corner.

Hargrove criticized Driskill on Monday for shying away from his fastball during the Devil Rays' seven-run second inning. Driskill used it in the fourth inning to retire Dave Berg on a fly ball and strand two runners in scoring position, and in the fifth to retire Josh Phelps on a grounder and strand two more.

He couldn't prevent the Blue Jays from moving ahead 3-1 in the sixth. Consecutive singles by Wells and Orlando Hudson, and a broken-bat grounder from Berg scored a run. Driskill got two strikes on Wilson before allowing another single that increased Toronto's lead and brought a pitching change.

"It seemed like I'd get two strikes and then I'd go to 2-2, 3-2. They did a good job of battling and putting the ball in play when they had to," he said.

Six of the last eight batters reached against Driskill, who hasn't completed the sixth inning in his last three starts. He's 1-3 with a 6.17 ERA against the Blue Jays, and the Orioles have noticed that he begins losing his stuff around 90 pitches.

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