With Unlucky 13th, Orioles Sink to Senators' Depth
By Richard Justice
Once again, it appears the Orioles can't play any worse than they played in a 9-5 loss to the Milwaukee Brewers before 7,414 at County Stadium.
It again appears the Orioles can't do worse than they did on the night that they dropped to 0-13, tying an 84-year-old record for losses at the beginning of the season.
The 1904 Washington Senators and 1920 Detroit Tigers both started 0-13, and the Orioles will try to avoid a record-setting 14th straight loss Wednesday night when Mike Boddicker tries to break his own eight-game losing streak.
"They know they played poorly tonight," Orioles Manager Frank Robinson said grimly. "I don't have to call a meeting and tell them that. We can't tolerate these base running mistakes and missed signs. What we hadn't done was hit. We did that tonight and it was uplifting, but there were far too many mistakes."
The Brewers had 14 hits -- Paul Molitor had three hits and four RBI -- off four pitchers. Starter Mark Thurmond (0-3) lasted only 1 2/3 innings, but by the time this game ended he was barely a bit player. This night, it was easy for Robinson to remember others. His Orioles made four errors, which led to four unearned runs. Right fielder Joe Orsulak committed two of the errors. Rookie catcher Carl Nichols committed two passed balls, which accounted for another. Rookie outfielder Wade Rowdon misplayed Rob Deer's fly into a run-scoring double, and he and Larry Sheets missed consecutive hit-and-run signs in the fourth inning.
Then there was outfielder Jeff Stone, who tried to go from first to third on an infield grounder in the seventh and was easily thrown out. The Orioles were so embarrassingly inept that they were booed by a crowd that apparently tired of seeing the home team being given a game.
When Stone and Rowdon joined the Orioles via trades this spring, their reputation was that of physically talented players who simply didn't know how to play the game. They've lived up to those expectations and more, and at least one of them probably is in his last days on the roster.
The Orioles did have some bright signs. Their three-run first inning was their biggest inning this season, and their five runs was a season high.
Shortstop Cal Ripken Jr. entered the game hitless in his last 29 at-bats and two for 43 for the season. But he broke out of it, getting on base four times with his first home run, a single and two walks.
In the first inning, Brewers starter Juan Nieves (five innings, five runs) more than helped the Orioles along.
He gave Ken Gerhart a leadoff walk, and, after Bill Ripken forced Gerhart, he walked Cal Ripken.
He then hung a 2-2 breaking pitch that Eddie Murray lined down the left field line for an RBI double. Rick Schu followed with a double to left center, scoring Cal Ripken and Murray for a 3-0 lead.
Schu went to third on B.J. Surhoff's passed ball, but, when Nichols bounced a slow roller toward second baseman Jim Gantner, Schu tried to score and was out by three feet. Sheets then fouled out to Surhoff to end the inning, and the Orioles ran out and promptly tried to give the lead back.
With one out in the bottom of the first, Schu bobbled Robin Yount's grounder. Yount went to second, then to third on two passed balls by Nichols, and Thurmond walked Surhoff. Still, he might have gotten out of it because Deer lined a catchable ball into left center.
Rowdon, who started in left, barely moved for Deer's fly that fell in for an RBI double. Surhoff went to third and scored on Greg Brock's grounder to make it 3-2.
An inning later, the Brewers erased what was left of the lead.
Dale Sveum and Gantner got one-out singles, and Molitor hit a knee-high fastball over the left field wall for a 5-3 lead. Thurmond got Yount on a grounder, but when Surhoff singled to left Robinson brought in Dave Schmidt, who finished the inning.
"I'd gotten Molitor out with the same pitch the time before," Thurmond said, "so he was looking for something down there. He's a good hitter, and I made a mistake."
Cal Ripken's first home run of the season broke a zero-for-29 slump and got the Orioles within 5-4 in the third.
But in the fifth inning, the Brewers got a couple more bonehead plays from the Orioles and scored twice for a 7-4 lead. Schmidt walked Deer to lead off the inning, and Brock singled. Glenn Braggs tried to sacrifice, but Schmidt fielded it and tossed to third for the force on Deer.
And then the Orioles fell apart.
Ernest Riles grounded a single to right. Brock scored on the single, and when Orsulak's throw skipped past Nichols for an error, Braggs came home to make it 7-4. Riles went to third and scored when Murray bobbled Sveum's grounder.
That made it 8-4, but the Orioles weren't finished. Orsulak overran Gantner's fly ball for his second error. Sveum stopped at second but eventually scored on Molitor's single to make it 9-4.
The Orioles got another run in the sixth. Nieves handed Cal Ripken a leadoff walk and Murray doubled. Reliever Chuck Crim was brought in and he got out of the inning, although Ripken did come home on an infield out by Terry Kennedy that closed the game to 9-5.
"I think the streak stuff is over-rated," Thurmond said. "We're trying as hard as we can to get this thing going. We scored some runs, but I just didn't give us a quality effort."
In the other clubhouse, Molitor said: "When they scored those three runs, you had to think it was their night. We know it's going to end sometime and they know it. It won't be the end of the world if they win tomorrow."
After the game, pitcher Mike Boddicker predicted he'd be traded before the June 15 trading deadline. He said that might be a good idea because he'll be a free agent after this season and doesn't intend to return to another losing team. He won't say it publicly, but has told friends he'll probably sign with the Kansas City Royals if they're interested.
"Sure, it'll have an effect," he said. "I've got some things in mind. This is very tough to live through. It's depressing, and at this point all you can do is try to go out and do your job. What the heck, 40 or 50 years from now, how many people will remember? Some other team will get started badly, and they'll look it up and find us in the book."
The Orioles are pressing their longest losing streak of all time. That was 14 in 1954. They're hitting .103 with runners in scoring position.
© Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company