O's 3-0 loss to Indians no crowd-pleaser

18,470, lowest attendance in Camden Yards history, watch very little offense

Lawton's 3-run HR is difference

O's manage just 4 hits against Anderson, Baez

April 04, 2003|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Cleveland Indians pitcher Brian Anderson was 20 minutes into a two-hour bus ride to a spring training game last month, when he suddenly realized he had forgotten his glove and spikes.

No problem. Anderson borrowed a car, purchased a $63 pair of spikes from a local shoe store, and then hurried over to Wal-Mart, where he bought a $28 glove. He pitched that day against the Los Angeles Dodgers without incident.

Last night, Anderson remembered all his equipment. The Orioles were the ones with a problem. Honey, I forgot the offense.

A crowd of 18,470, the smallest in the 12-year history of Camden Yards, watched Anderson toss eight shutout innings and Matt Lawton hit a three-run homer to lead the Indians over the Orioles, 3-0.

A young and rebuilding Cleveland team took two of three games in the series, dropping the season opener in 13 innings Monday, and then spoiling the Orioles debuts of Omar Daal and Rick Helling.

Daal pitched 6 1/3 innings in Wednesday's 4-2 loss, and Helling came back with a quality start last night, allowing three runs on three hits over six innings.

"It's a shame we wasted an effort like that, but Anderson pitched well, too," said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove. "The longer the game went along, the less patient we got, which is not good. But it's early, and your hitters have a tendency to be that way."

Helling matched Anderson zero for zero until the sixth inning, when he issued a one-out walk to Milton Bradley, a bunt single to Omar Vizquel and the three-run homer to Lawton.

Scouts have questioned the Orioles' decision to sign Helling because he has a propensity to give up home runs, and now he'll be making half his starts at homer-friendly Camden Yards.

Helling has given up an average of 33.4 home runs over the past five seasons, but he doesn't think Camden's short confines will be a problem.

"One thing about me," he said this week, "if I give up a home run, it's usually out anywhere. It's not going 365 [feet], it'll be legit."

That proved true last night, as Lawton hit a towering, 390-foot blast over the right-field seats. Other than that, the Indians didn't hit many balls hard against Helling.

One night after Ellis Burks delivered the decisive blow with a two-run single in the seventh inning, Lawton struck in the sixth, begging the question of why Hargrove hasn't turned over these games sooner to his formidable bullpen.

"I don't look at Omar Daal or Rick Helling or any of these guys as five or six-inning pitchers," Hargrove said. "I think they can pitch longer than that. We'll watch them every time they go out, but we're expecting them to take us deep into the game. By deep, I mean seven-plus innings, but we'll see."

Helling has averaged 12.2 victories over the past five seasons, and he delivered the type of performance that normally resulted in victory when he pitched for the Texas Rangers and Arizona Diamondbacks.

As Daal learned Wednesday, wins will be tougher to come by on this new team. In the past two nights, the Orioles have nine hits.

They were shut out 15 times last season and wound up scoring the second-fewest runs in the American League, at 667.

"This is a new season. We all get to start over," Helling said. "So I couldn't care less about what last year's team did. I know there are a lot of the same guys here, but there are a lot of different guys, too. We didn't score any runs tonight, but that doesn't mean we're not going to. We've got a lot of great hitters in this clubhouse. Give [Anderson credit], he pitched a great game."

Last night's lineup did not include Marty Cordova, who has a herniated disc in his lower back, or B.J. Surhoff, who got the night off against the left-handed Anderson.

Jay Gibbons doubled off the right-field wall to start the second inning, and the Orioles looked in prime position to take an early lead. But Tony Batista grounded to third, Melvin Mora bounced back to the pitcher, and Indians third baseman Casey Blake made a diving stop to rob Deivi Cruz of a hit, ending the inning.

Gibbons never left second base. In fact, the Orioles didn't have a runner reach third base all night.

The Orioles also wasted leadoff singles in the fourth and seventh, as Gibbons and Batista grounded into double plays.

Hargrove said he can be patient.

"We're three games into the season, and we're 1-2," Hargrove said. "Certainly, the longer this goes on, the tougher it's going to be to take. We work on it every day in conversations at the [batting] cage no one ever sees. So it's being addressed."

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