Yanks leave O's all wet, 12-9

New York's bats wake up after rain delay to extend Orioles' skid to 6 games

Yankees score 4 in 5th, 5 in 7th

May 27, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

It all crystallized for the Orioles last night at about 11, after the 65-minute rain delay, after the game's first series of seismic momentum shifts.

Camden Yards was swaying beneath the emotions of a bipartisan crowd of 37,610, and both managers were desperate for something sturdy they could latch onto, someone who could bring order to all the chaos.

The New York Yankees had scored seven unanswered runs to take the lead, only to see the Orioles go back in front with their biggest inning in six weeks. It was the seventh inning, and the Orioles had just taken a two-run lead. They needed nine outs from their bullpen to seal the victory.

Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli, a man who has never looked so desperate for a reliable setup man, turned to two of the steadiest relievers he has, and moments later, the Yankees had regained the lead against Buddy Groom and B.J. Ryan.

New York held on for a 12-9 victory, and the Orioles were left to pick up the pieces after their sixth straight loss.

Having already used Rodrigo Lopez (five innings, five runs) to start the game, and having already used Darwin Cubillan (one inning, two runs), Mazzilli had limited right-handed options remaining in his bullpen to protect the 9-7 lead.

Mike DeJean was sitting out there with his 9.19 ERA, and next to him sat Denny Bautista, who owned one appearances above Double-A, and that came Wednesday night.

So Mazzilli turned to Groom, who had quietly posted a 2.19 ERA this season in 13 appearances.

One batter later, it was 9-8, as the left-handed hitting Hideki Matsui drilled his seventh homer of the season into the right-field seats. Ruben Sierra followed with a single to center, and Mazzilli quickly tried to rectify the situation by summoning Ryan.

The Orioles have come to view Ryan as the closest thing they have to a set-up specialist this year, and on that streak all the time, the ball seems like a beach ball and you feel like you can hit anything that's thrown up there. And that's what you start doing, swinging at everything because you think you're going to get hits.

"All of a sudden, you don't get any one game, then two games, then three games, and it magnifies and you're in a slump."

Roberts drove in a ninth-inning run in Tuesday's 11-3 loss to the New York Yankees, two days after Mazzilli sat him against the Anaheim Angels - the only game he has missed.

"You look for anything positive and try to build on it, but it's frustrating," he said.

"I don't ever remember a season like this, where I'm either smoking hot or cold as ice. But it's a game of streaks. People say `This guy's a streaky hitter,' or `That guy's a streaky hitter.' Everybody's a streaky hitter. That's just how it works. But it's where your average is at the end that counts."

Each failed at-bat is magnified when you're the leadoff hitter assigned to set the table rather than waste time at the plate. And when your team tumbles below .500 after losing five games in a row.

"If we were still winning, I wouldn't care," he said. "Well, I'd still care, but it wouldn't hurt as bad."

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