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  •   Orioles Do the Usual, Are 0-15

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Friday, April 22, 1988; Page D1

    The 1988 Streak:
    Game 15
    MILWAUKEE, APRIL 21 -- Their day began with Jeff Stone singling to left, then getting picked off first, and it ended with Terry Kennedy slicing a soft liner to shortstop Dale Sveum.

    In between, there would be more of the same. There would be the Milwaukee Brewers dropping in three straight broken-bat hits in a six-run third inning. There would be Bill Schroeder hitting a monstrous two-run homer off Scott McGregor. There would be the Baltimore Orioles getting one base runner as far as third base.

    Finally, there would be another loss, a 7-1 rout by the Brewers before 7,749 at County Stadium this afternoon.

    There would be the Orioles extending their record-setting start to 15 straight defeats. No major league team has ever started a season 0-15, and until today no Orioles team had ever lost 15 consecutive games.

    But a day after they erased the previous major league record for a bad start, they did away with their club record for consecutive losses. Until today, the record had been 14 straight 34 years ago during their first season in Baltimore.

    They're also the 13th team in American League history to lose 15 consecutive games, the first to do it since the 1975 Detroit Tigers lost 19 in a row. Only 18 major league teams this century have ever had longer losing streaks.

    Once more, they did not crack. But although they did not tear up a clubhouse or go after one another, they clearly aren't having any fun.

    "I feel as much pressure as I've ever felt," center fielder Fred Lynn said. "I feel the kind of pressure I felt on clubs in pennant races. You say, 'You're in last place, how can there be pressure?' There's tremendous pressure. It's not a monkey on our backs anymore. It's Godzilla."

    Their new manager continued to answer every question with patience and humor, but he wore the tired expression of a man waiting for the executioner's song. Their general manager walked around the clubhouse in a daze and looked as if he hadn't slept in days.

    "I'm not handling it as well as I was," General Manager Roland Hemond said. "You can't feel sorry for yourself, and you've got to keep pushing. But none of us has been through anything like this."

    Their bad day was made worse because third baseman Rick Schu took himself out of the lineup moments before game time and was sent back to Baltimore to have his sore right elbow examined. The Orioles hope he'll be cleared to return to Kansas City for Friday's game against the Royals, but they can't be sure.

    "I did it in Cleveland," Schu said, "and it's not getting any better. I'm hoping that a couple of days off will do some good."

    What he missed was a game in which the Orioles trailed, 6-0, after three innings and 7-0 after four. It's one thing that they've been outscored, 94-29, and are scoring 1.9 runs per game, but most of the time they're not even staying around long enough to make it interesting. If a team ERA of 5.82 won't kill them, then getting outscored, 51-11, in the first four innings will.

    Today, Chris Bosio (3-1) scattered eight hits in his third complete game of the season. His job was made easier by pitching against McGregor (0-3), the once-great left-hander who has lost 14 of his last 17 decisions and hasn't won since May 16, 1987.

    In McGregor's defense, he was victimized by three broken-bat hits, but he didn't run up an 8.56 ERA on bad luck alone.

    His trouble started with one out in the third when Paul Molitor singled to right. Robin Yount followed with a single that third baseman Rene Gonzales knocked down, but couldn't field.

    Which is when things got nasty. Glenn Braggs shattered his bat on an RBI single to center, and Rob Deer also broke his bat on an RBI double down the left-field line. Greg Brock did the same on an RBI double down the right-field line. Brock's hit scored Braggs and Deer to make it 4-0 and, after Joey Meyer grounded out, Schroeder finished McGregor with a towering home run to left.

    "All I know is I shattered three bats in a row and they ended up with six runs on the board," McGregor said. "You can't call them bad pitches in a case like that. Braggs' bat splintered all over the infield and the ball goes up the middle for a hit. It's the most unbelievable thing I've ever seen.

    "Even if you're tipping your pitches, you can't do something like this. We've heard these guys relay signs {to the hitter when there's a man on second}. Hell, you can't cheat that good. After a while you look up and say, 'What's going on here?' If you tried to lose, you couldn't lose all these games. You could go out and not give a damn and not lose all these games. You're going along, and then, boom, there are five or six runs on the board. It just crushes the morale of the team."

    The Brewers got their sixth run off Oswald Peraza, who was dropped from the rotation earlier in the day.

    The Orioles didn't come close to scoring until the eighth, and by then they were down, 7-0. They did score that inning when Kennedy doubled and Rene Gonzales singled. But the middle of the order continued to spin. Eddie Murray, Fred Lynn and Cal Ripken had two hits in 12 at-bats today and are hitting .170 -- 34 points lower than the .204 team average.

    "There's pressure; sure there is," Manager Frank Robinson said. "We just have to ride this thing out. But we're thinking about the 16th game now, not the 15th. Everyday we go out, we think we're going to win. It's one of those stretches when no one is hot. They're trying, and you can't scream or holler as long as that's happening."

    The Brewers have beaten the Orioles five times and, after the game, said they were glad to see them leave.

    "It was a tough situation to play the Orioles with their circumstances," Molitor said. "I'm glad they're gone because they're starting to play better. And somebody is going to pay the price."

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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