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  •   Orioles Can't Hit Again, Hit 0-12

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Monday, April 18, 1988; Page C1

    The 1988 Streak:
    Game 12
    BALTIMORE, APRIL 17 -- Teams off to good starts this baseball season might go through the process, just for fun, of figuring out their magic numbers. The Baltimore Orioles know their magic number already.

    One. Any one.

    Baltimore lost, 4-1, to the Cleveland Indians today before 20,837 at Memorial Stadium. The Indians already have racked up seven wins to clinch the season series against the Orioles, 0-12 and sinking fast from the collective memory of the American League East.

    The Orioles went to their orange jerseys today for just the third time since 1984. That didn't do any good, either, as they managed an offense of four singles and a double and lost their sixth straight game under Manager Frank Robinson.

    Someone pointed out to Robinson that predecessor Cal Ripken Sr. was fired after losing the first six games of this season.

    "I tell you what," Robinson said. "I'm not answering the phone tonight."

    Of course, the loss puts the Orioles within one game of the major league record 0-13 for most extended winless beginning. The Washington Senators of 1904 -- and they had a tie interposed -- and the Detroit Tigers of 1920 share that ignominy.

    For those who don't remember 1920, among other things (as provided by the Orioles' unblushing public relations office), the winning speed in the Indianapolis 500 was 88 mph. Orioles pitcher Ozzie Peraza throws a little faster than that, one reason Baltimore acquired him and Jose Mesa in the Mike Flanagan trade last season.

    Today, the Indians sent a number of Peraza's pitches down the left and right field lines, to the tune of seven hits and three runs in four innings.

    Mark Williamson came on to start the fifth, and pitched well. He struck out four in four innings, and gave up just one hit, leading to Cleveland's last run. But, as usual, the Orioles failed to take advantage of a quality pitching performance.

    "Our ERA came down big time {from 7.41 to 5.43} on this homestand," catcher Terry Kennedy said. "So did our batting average."

    Indeed, the Orioles still have not scored more than three runs in a game, and are batting .186 (72 hits in 387 at-bats).

    When a team is in such a collective and total slump, which now includes a zero-for-29 stretch for its No. 3 hitter, ironman Cal Ripken Jr. (none for four today), everyone likes to recommend changes. Robinson has made several in his half-dozen games as manager, but he said he doesn't want to make changes just for change's sake.

    "You think about that," he said, "but you look at it and you say, 'Well, will this be a long-range thing?' If we go out and win four or five games, then lose a couple, will we go back? And will that help you in the long run?

    "But then again, the way we're going, you do something different, maybe, to loosen the guys up. Tell them to go up there and hit standing on their head or something. Anything. Go up there without a bat. We've tried lineup changes, but they just don't seem to be working . . ."

    Baltimore did end a 20-inning scoreless streak in the third on singles by Kennedy and Rick Schu, a sacrifice and an RBI grounder by Joe Orsulak, to tie the game at 1.

    But in the fourth, with one out, Brook Jacoby doubled down the left field line. Mel Hall followed with a similar shot down the right field line, which got around right fielder Fred Lynn for an error. Cory Snyder's fly ball brought Hall in from third.

    Cleveland scratched out a run in the seventh on Hall's double and two infield outs.

    Meanwhile, Baltimore had four base runners reach second after the third inning. But when they did, Orioles batters went zero for seven, making them none for their last 27 with runners in scoring position.

    "One of these games," Kennedy said, "we'll go out and say 'I don't care,' and it'll happen. But the guys are pressing so much."

    The Cy Young impersonator today was Indians right-hander John Farrell (2-0), who yielded four hits in 8 1/3 innings before Dan Schatzeder came on with one on and one out in the ninth. Schatzeder gave up a single to Larry Sheets, bringing Kennedy and then Schu to the plate as the tying run. Kennedy flied to center. Schu flied to right.

    Farrell is just one pitching pleasance for the surprising Indians, who left town with an 11-2 record and first place in the AL East. Their starting pitchers are 10-0, leading the majors with a 1.77 ERA.

    Robinson said he didn't want to panic, and Indians Manager Doc Edwards, who suffered through a losing streak or two himself last season, agreed he oughtn't.

    "Baltimore's going to come out of it," he said, "and they're going to kick somebody's tail very shortly. They've got too many hitters. I'm just glad we're getting out of town."

    Atlanta won today, didn't it?

    Orioles Notes:

    Reliever Don Aase worked two innings (28 pitches) in a simulated game this morning, continuing his rehabilitation. "He threw some good fastballs," pitching coach Herm Starrette said, "and some of them weren't so good. But I'm not worried, because he's been throwing good . . . I think he's throwing better than he anticipated, and he's waiting for something to happen, or feel some pain, but he doesn't have it. Sometimes, that does happen."

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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