Holes appear in DeJean's tailor-made spot

Reliever takes third loss after tie turns into deficit

May 04, 2004|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Mike DeJean never expected his first season with the Orioles to begin like this - with the losses piling up and the home fans booing him. And the disappointment was evident in his posture last night as manager Lee Mazzilli approached the mound.

Hands on hips, head bowed, eyes fixed on the ground.

Brought into a tie game in the seventh inning, DeJean allowed three runs to the Chicago White Sox before Buddy Groom replaced him with two outs. Only one run was earned, because of a throwing error on shortstop Miguel Tejada, but DeJean's third defeat didn't come with an asterisk. This one belonged to him.

The first three batters DeJean faced hit the ball hard, with Juan Uribe and Frank Thomas singling after getting ahead in the count to put runners on the corners. Tejada charged a grounder from Carlos Lee and threw wide of second base, and the White Sox had the lead in a game they'd win, 5-4, after their closer, Billy Koch, gave up two runs in the ninth.

"As soon as the ball was hit to shortstop, my first thought was, `I sure wish this ground wasn't wet,' because it really takes the speed off the ball and it picks up so much water and dirt and everything else," DeJean said.

An intentional walk to Ross Gload loaded the bases, and DeJean looked as if he'd minimize the damage after striking out Joe Crede. But Aaron Rowand reached on an infield hit, the ball scooting under Tejada's glove, and Sandy Alomar walked to force in the third run.

"We have enough offense and defense to beat anybody," DeJean said, "but when you're a little short on the mound, me in particular, it's just frustrating."

DeJean missed with a 3-1 fastball, and his second appearance in three days was about to bring the same result.

"He got the ground balls when he needed them. They just weren't the right ground balls," Mazzilli said. "It's frustrating. It's not like he got hit around."

Mazzilli walked slowly to the mound and hung around long enough for Groom to get in a few more warm-up tosses. It wasn't until plate umpire Greg Gibson joined the conference that the call went to the bullpen.

Nothing could be done to rescue DeJean or the Orioles, who signed him as a free agent in December for situations like last night.

Seventh inning, tie game, right-handed hitters lined up for him. This is DeJean's time when he's going good. And apparently, when he's going bad.

The Louisiana native has allowed runs in five of his past six appearances, with opponents totaling 15 hits and nine walks in 6 1/3 innings. But Mazzilli isn't shying away from him.

"That was the spot for him right there. It just didn't pan out," Mazzilli said. "I don't want him to keep putting pressure on himself. He's just got to go out there and pitch."

"I chose to come to Baltimore and be an Oriole," DeJean said. "Hopefully I can give the fans something to cheer about sooner than later. I'm not going to back down. I'm not going to let my confidence get shaken."

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