Orioles Fall Just Short Against Angels
Angels 3, Orioles 2
By Dave Sheinin
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, May 23, 2004; Page E07
ANAHEIM, Calif., May 22 -- B.J. Surhoff's exasperating trip around the bases in Saturday night's seventh inning included a slip-and-fall rounding first base after his single, an awkward slide back to the first base bag, a scamper to second base on a wild pitch and, finally, a mad dash around third on Larry Bigbie's single. What happened next left Surhoff in a silent rage and left his Baltimore Orioles with a frustrating 3-2 loss to the Anaheim Angels.
Thrown out at the plate by Angels rifle-armed left fielder Jose Guillen while representing the potential tying run, Surhoff kicked vengefully at a bat lying in his path and stomped down the steps of the Orioles' dugout, where he disappeared into the tunnel.
As such, Surhoff's was the face of the Orioles on Saturday night -- frustrated, frowning and just a little bit angry. Indeed, things are getting testy around the Orioles (20-19) these days, as might be expected of a team that has suffered a pair of three-game losing streaks in the past 10 days.
"I didn't make a very good turn" around third base, Surhoff said. "I don't know if I would have been safe [with a better turn], but I would've liked to take my chance."
One night after suffering a two-run loss that hinged on a botched bullpen job by veteran reliever Mike DeJean -- and which also included a critical run being cut down at the plate by Guillen -- the Orioles wasted another excellent effort from ace Sidney Ponson, who pitched a complete game in defeat in front of a sellout crowd of 43,586.
Surhoff had one more chance to change the outcome, coming to the plate against Angels closer Troy Percival with two outs and the potential winning runs aboard in the ninth. But Surhoff struck out on a 2-2 fastball, getting a pat on the back from third base coach Tom Trebelhorn as they came off the field.
The Angels may be without four key fixtures of their lineup (injured stars Garret Anderson, Darin Erstad, Troy Glaus and Tim Salmon) -- a situation that Manager Mike Scioscia before the game compared to a car "running on five out of eight cylinders" -- but as long as they have Vladimir Guerrero, they have instant offense.
Guerrero, who spurned the Orioles and signed a five-year, $70 million deal with the Angels this winter, crushed a mammoth two-run homer off Ponson (3-4) in the fifth inning, providing the decisive runs.
"It caught a lot of the plate. He's the kind of hitter who's going to hit it out," Ponson said. "If I had thrown the pitch where I wanted it, he wouldn't have hit it out."
Two innings later, the Orioles were in position to tie the game when Surhoff, who was in the lineup for the first time since May 15, ripped a two-out single off the glove of Angels first baseman Casey Kotchman, then moved to second on a wild pitch on Angels starter Kelvim Escobar.
Bigbie followed with a sharp single to left. Surhoff rounded third and Trebelhorn never hesitated in putting up the green light.
Surhoff dug for home, but Guillen's laser-like throw to catcher Jose Molina easily beat him to the plate.
Escobar (3-2) held the Orioles hitless until the fourth, when Melvin Mora and Javy Lopez homered for a 2-1 lead. Mora, who is now hitting .386 after a 1-for-3 night, hit his homer on a misplaced 0-2 fastball, the type he has rarely missed this season. He deposited Escobar's mistake pitch over the wall in left-center for his eighth homer of the season.
Three batters later, Escobar put his first pitch to Javy Lopez in the exact same spot, and Lopez deposited the ball in almost the same spot as Mora; it was Lopez's sixth homer of the year.
Ponson had struck out Guerrero his first two trips to the plate on an 86-mph slider and a 94-mph four-seamer, respectively. On his first pitch to Guerrero in the fifth, Ponson tried to come back with another slider on the outside corner, and Guerrero jumped all over it.
The blast sailed over the wall in left, over the Angels' bullpen beyond the wall, and over the Orioles' bullpen beyond that, finally alighting in the first row of seats behind both bullpens. Official estimated distance: 453 feet.
Guerrero's homer, his ninth of the season, gave the Angels a 3-2 lead.
Orioles Notes: Although left-hander B.J. Ryan has been experiencing some "rustiness" in his arm since the Seattle series, Mazzilli said that is not why he bypassed Ryan and went instead with DeJean with a two-run lead in the eighth inning Friday night.
The Orioles went on to lose the game when the Angels scored four runs in the inning, after which DeJean complained of being "vilified" by the media.
Ryan, who has posted a 1.57 ERA while appearing in exactly half the team's first 38 games, "is fine," Mazzilli said. "You can't fall into that pattern of going to one guy every night. That's what you have other guys for. That should have been DeJean's inning anyway."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company