Yanks don't miss beat, 11-3

Mazzilli, Yanks reunite as tale of 2 staffs results in 5th straight O's loss

Orioles' youth exposed again

D. Bautista, DeJean hit in 6-run sixth

Gibbons leaves with back spasms

May 26, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

Imagine if Lee Mazzilli and Joe Torre were just two old friends meeting at a ballgame last night. They'd reminisce about old times, tell each other a story or two, maybe even pull out some pictures of the kids.

This game had that feel, as Torre's New York Yankees pounded Mazzilli's Orioles, 11-3, before 42,846 at Camden Yards.

If these two wanted to really find out how the other was doing these days, this gave them a chance to spend nine innings in opposing dugouts, so they could watch for themselves.

Torre saw the Orioles struggle through another chapter in their young pitching crisis, while the Yankees cruised behind Jon Lieber, a veteran pitcher they basically kept on mothballs all of last year.

"It's not," Mazzilli said, "what I planned."

With their fifth straight loss, the Orioles (20-21) fell below .500 for the first time since Easter Sunday, when they were 3-4. The Yankees improved to 56-27 in 12 years at Camden Yards.

And if the Orioles' night wasn't bleak enough, they watched right fielder Jay Gibbons hobble off the field in the ninth inning with lower-back spasms.

Gibbons, 27, winced through his swing as he lined a single to right field and limped all the way to first base. He had to be helped off the field and carried down the dugout steps, but Mazzilli and trainer Richie Bancells still listed him as day-to-day.

Gibbons has been playing with occasional back spasms since mid-April, but the injury had subsided before worsening last night. Today, the Orioles will have a better idea if they need to put him on the disabled list.

"He was hurting pretty good," Mazzilli said. "With back spasms, you just don't know. Hopefully, it's not something that will sideline him for a while."

The Orioles have yet to weather their first significant injury of the season, but they've experienced plenty of growing pains with their pitching.

This time it was Erik Bedard, a rookie who got bounced between the big leagues and Triple-A Ottawa throughout April, who had to handle a 78-minute rain delay in the third inning. Mazzilli relieved Bedard in the fifth with Denny Bautista, a promising yet oh-so-green pitcher from Double-A.

Torre countered with Lieber, a pitcher the Yankees signed with tremendous foresight in January 2003, only five months after he had undergone major reconstructive elbow surgery.

They let Lieber heal all of last season, then unveiled him this year to help replace the formidable trio of Roger Clemens, Andy Pettitte and David Wells.

Lieber (4-1) won his third consecutive start, holding the Orioles to two runs, both of them unearned, in seven innings.

Bedard (1-2) was solid until the rains came, but the Yankees got to him for two runs in the fourth inning. Bautista came on to make an impressive major league debut in the fifth, retiring the side against Bernie Williams, Alex Rodriguez and Gary Sheffield.

"I was real surprised when I started warming up," Bautista said through translator Rudy Arias. "God had given me the opportunity to pitch in this game. There's nothing better than facing the Yankees."

But Mazzilli sent Bautista back out for the sixth, and that's when the Yankees pulled away. Four runs in that inning were charged to Bautista, and two more were charged to Mike DeJean, who surrendered a three-run homer to Rodriguez that increased the lead to 8-0.

"We didn't know what we were going to get [out of Bautista]," Mazzilli said. "The first inning he threw the ball well. He threw 94 [mph]. But against that club, you can't make mistakes like he did. That's just being inexperienced."

Bautista, 23, unleashed a series of 94-mph fastballs and 82-mph curveballs to get through that daunting fifth inning. But the Yankees loaded the bases with one out in the sixth, when Enrique Wilson hit a sacrifice fly, stretching the lead to 3-0.

Then with the struggling Derek Jeter at the plate - he of the .189 batting average - Bautista threw a wild pitch, allowing the fourth run to score. Jeter followed with a run-scoring double down the left-field line before Mazzilli went back to his bullpen.

"It was my first time in the big leagues, and I felt good about it," Bautista said. "It makes me know I've got to work harder."

Trailing 5-0, Mazzilli figured it was a good time to get DeJean some work, but once again, the results were troubling.

Williams singled, and then Rodriguez hit his 11th home run of the season over the center-field wall. DeJean gave up two more runs in the seventh, raising his ERA to 9.19.

Bedard, who earned his first major league win in his previous start at Seattle, held the Yankees to two runs on five hits in four innings. He threw 36 pitches before the rain delay, and Mazzilli pulled him out with his pitch count at 79.

"I would have liked to stay out there," Bedard said. "But that's their decision. Whatever decision they make is OK with me."

Orioles tonight

Opponent: New York Yankees

Site: Camden Yards

Time: 7:05

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

Starters: Yankees' Mike Mussina (5-4, 4.71) vs. Orioles' Rodrigo Lopez (3-2, 1.97)

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