Orioles Labor 11 to Lose 11th
By Richard Justice
In the bottom of the 11th, the Baltimore Orioles filled the bases and nothing came of it. They had lost again.
Cory Snyder was that Cleveland runner, and he raced home on a single by Willie Upshaw off reliever Dave Schmidt. And, in the bottom half, Terry Kennedy took strike three from Doug Jones for the final out as the Indians won, 1-0, to extend the most frustrating and embarrassing streak in the history of a once-great franchise.
The defeat drops the Orioles to 0-11, the third-worst start in major league history and the worst in 68 years. Only the 1904 Washington Senators and 1920 Detroit Tigers (0-13) had more extended winless beginnings, and in 35 years, the Orioles have had only two longer losing streaks of any kind (12 games in 1955 and 14 games in 1954, when they were newly relocated St. Louis Browns).
The worst part is they wasted another terrific pitching performance. Mike Morgan allowed two hits in nine innings and sailed through the Indians, facing just three hitters over the minimum.
But he was pretty much matched pitch for pitch by Cleveland's 23-year-old left-hander Greg Swindell, who worked into the 11th inning and allowed seven hits and no runs.
Yet in giving up only three hits altogether, the Orioles were again beaten because they didn't hit. Eddie Murray missed a game-winning home run by inches in the 11th, but that was about as close as they came in collecting just eight hits and leaving 10 men on base.
Second baseman Bill Ripken had three of the eight hits, but his famous brother, shortstop Cal Ripken Jr., continues to struggle. He went hitless in four at-bats tonight, and is now hitless in his last 25 official times up -- the longest such stretch of his career.
And they almost won it anyway. The beginning of the end of the 0-0 tie came when Schmidt (0-1) gave Snyder a leadoff walk in the 11th. He went to second on a passed ball by catcher Carl Nichols. Schmidt bounced back to strike out Jay Bell and Chris Bando.
He then walked Julio Franco, and Upshaw dumped the winning hit into center to run the Indians' record to 10-2, their best start in 22 years.
"I just wanted to stay back in the box and try to hit it to left field," Upshaw said. "I think it was a sinker. I just stayed on it real well."
The Orioles had their chance, too, in the 11th. Bill Ripken's third hit, leading off, brought on Jones, and Murray's long drive went for a double. But Cal Ripken lined back to the mound and, after a walk, pinch hitter Kennedy was called out on strikes.
They also had threatened in the ninth, none-out singles by Fred Lynn and Murray going for naught.
In trying to generate offense, Manager Frank Robinson tried almost everything, a two-strike bunt in the eighth and finishing the game having used all but one of his nonpitchers.
"You can't ask for any more than Morgan gave us," Robinson said. "We just have to wait it out. There's not much else you can do. Try different people, different combinations, different spots. We've just got to wait until we get a big hit. Upshaw got it for them. We had four or five chances and didn't get one. Our pitching has been good enough the last three games that we haven't needed much offense. We're just not doing it right now."
The Orioles were about one hit away all night, but have now been outscored 66-16 in the 11 games. They didn't get a runner in scoring position until the third, and Swindell got Ken Gerhart on a grounder back to the mound for the third out.
In the fourth, they got a leadoff double from Bill Ripken, but left him there was Swindell retired Lynn, Murray and Larry Sheets. They had another chance in the sixth when Bill Ripken singled and stole second, but Lynn and Murray flied to right to end the inning.
Meanwhile, the Indians weren't doing anything with Morgan. He faced only 30 hitters -- three over the minimum -- for his nine innings. The only hits against him were Upshaw's first-inning single and Brook Jacoby's eighth-inning single. The only other base runner was Andy Allanson, who walked in the third inning.
The roster shuffle continued today as Gerhart was removed from the disabled list, and Tito Landrum, who had joined the team only Tuesday, was sent to Class AAA Rochester. Gerhart finished a three-game rehabilitation assignment with Class AA Charlotte, where he went two for 13. He was sent there when it was discovered the Orioles had mistakenly placed him on the 21-day disabled list instead of the 15-day list. He went right into the starting lineup as center fielder and leadoff hitter. Lynn moved to right and Joe Orsulak to left, an alignment the Orioles might use for a few games.
"You don't want to be hurt, but hopefully that's all over," Gerhart said. "It's not easy watching the team go like this. You always think you can do better, especially with all the left-handers going. I'm sure I couldn't have done any worse." . . . Landrum's demotion was a surprise, but Robinson decided to keep Wade Rowdon because "we're a little more balanced with him. He can play both the infield and outfield, and that gives you another move. Besides, Tito needs to go down and get some at-bats." . . . Gerhart's arrival and Orsulak's continued hot hitting means that Jeff Stone (.032) might ride the bench a while.
© Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company