Mora Is Hurt but O's Bench Goes Deep to Beat Toronto

Eli Marrero
Eli Marrero has his best game as an Oriole with a home run and two doubles to help Baltimore beat Toronto, 9-5. (Frank Gunn - AP)

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By Jorge Arangure Jr.
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, June 22, 2005

TORONTO, June 21 -- They will once again go to bed nervous and hope that another one of their star players isn't lost for long. The team that has survived injuries to four of its starting players and its ace may now be without third baseman Melvin Mora for at least 15 days because of a pulled right hamstring. The Baltimore Orioles are confident, though, as they have been with the other injuries, they will overcome it. In the moments after Mora's injury in the eighth inning of Baltimore's 9-5 win against the Toronto Blue Jays, second baseman Brian Roberts approached Manager Lee Mazzilli and offered consoling words.

"Maz, don't worry about it," Roberts said. "We'll be okay. We'll get through it."

Baltimore won't know the severity of Mora's injury until Wednesday. Until then, the Orioles must hope for good news. Mora pulled the hamstring while trying to run to first base on a ground ball to shortstop Russ Adams in the eighth. Mora clutched his leg immediately after crossing first base.

"It wasn't like a pop, but it's like something grabbed me," Mora said.

Mora said he isn't sure whether he was headed to the disabled list.

"I pray to God, no," Mora said. "But it hurts."

Mazzilli, who has countless times this season patched together lineups because of the injuries, seemed most struck by the news.

"It's not good right now," Mazzilli said.

In the dugout during the game he appeared discouraged while talking to bench coach Sam Perlozzo. Roberts noticed Mazzilli's concern. He pointed to on-deck hitter Chris Gomez, who will likely play third base in Mora's absence, and reminded the manager of how well the utility infielder has played this season.

"Coach, with what you've got out there, you're fine," Roberts said he told Mazzilli.

Gomez has been one the team's most valuable role players. Because of players such as Gomez, the Orioles are no longer turned into an ordinary team against left-handed pitchers.

Perhaps Baltimore's success against left-handed pitching this season is yet another sign these Orioles can no longer be compared to their counterparts from recent years. Tuesday's win came against left-handed rookie Gustavo Chacin. Last year Baltimore hit just .253 against lefties. This season, prior to Tuesday, they were hitting .274 against them.

With such a deep bench, Baltimore is no longer forced to play some of its left-handed regulars against left-handed pitchers. On Tuesday they plugged Eli Marrero and Gomez into the lineup to replace left fielder Larry Bigbie and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro. Though Bigbie has hit lefties hard this season -- .390 entering the game -- Mazzilli prefers the right-handed Marrero. While Palmeiro struggles against lefties with a .206 average prior to Tuesday, Gomez thrives against them (.304 average entering the game).

Recently, Marrero has begun to surge. His two-run home run on Monday led to the only runs against Ted Lilly.

Marrero again delivered Tuesday. His double was a key part of Baltimore's five-run first inning against Chacin. Marrero homered in the fourth inning to extend Baltimore's lead to 6-1.


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© 2005 The Washington Post Company

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