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  •   13-1 Debacle Enrages Robinson

    By Richard Justice
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, April 23, 1988; Page C1

    The 1988 Streak:
    Game 16
    KANSAS CITY, MO., APRIL 22 -- They wandered into another ballpark, where they found another slumping team. They spread their magic powers. They made the grown-ups smile and the children laugh. They sent the people home happy.

    What else is left for the winless Baltimore Orioles? They've become a hot national story and the butt of jokes from Tacoma to Tallahassee. And it never ends and didn't tonight as they lost their 16th consecutive game, this one 13-1 to the Kansas City Royals.

    They were down by 9-0 in the first inning before many of the 34,482 had taken their seats at Royals Stadium, and, when it ended, Orioles Manager Frank Robinson closed the clubhouse door and gave his team a tongue-lashing.

    "We played like losers," he snapped later. "It looks like we've started to accept losing, and I won't tolerate that. After the first inning, we were dead. See you later. That wasn't a professional effort in any phase of the game."

    Asked how his players might react, he said: "If they don't respond, we'll try to get some people here who will . . . It's embarrassing. They act like it's okay with them. No one gets upset. They say, 'We'll come back tomorrow.' {Kevin} Seitzer scores from third on a sacrifice fly, and when they get back to the dugout, they say he left third early. But they waited until they got off the field to say something. That's not good baseball -- not at any level."

    It was Robinson's first tantrum since taking over as manager 10 games ago, and it came at a time when it looks as if he can do little else. It comes at a time when he has tried meetings and coaching. It came a few hours after he had his players watch a 1987 highlight film, his way of planting positive thoughts in their minds.

    But when the game ended, the Orioles had three hits, one fewer than Royals outfielder Bo Jackson.

    If losing is bad, losing quickly is worse, and the Orioles continue to fall fast. They trailed by 9-0 after an inning and have been outscored 60-11 in the first four innings of their 16 losses (107-30 overall).

    The Royals had lost five straight and their hitting slump was so severe that Manager John Wathan had called clubhouse meetings and was considering shaking up his lineup.

    He got the next best thing. He got the winless Orioles, who became the 10th American League team to lose 16 consecutive games and the first since the 1975 Detroit Tigers. Only 14 teams in modern major league history have lost more games in a row, none since the '77 Braves dropped 17.

    The Royals banged five pitchers for 19 hits. Every Kansas City starter had at least one, and Willie Wilson had a single and triple and scored two runs before the first inning was over.

    "I wish we could go right back out and play another game right now," Wathan said. He was a witness to the latest Oriole miracle, this one beginning with seven consecutive singles to open the last of the first inning. That's one shy of the AL record, and six of the hits came off Mike Morgan (0-3), who didn't get anyone out. He allowed six runs and his ERA soared from 3.65 to 5.84 in about 12 minutes. Oriole pitchers have allowed 58 hits in the four games of this trip.

    About a week ago, the Orioles thought their pitching was coming around. When the hitting comes around, they said, we'll be fine. The hitting came and went, and the pitching has since gone south again.

    Their starters have a 16.62 ERA in their last five starts, and when they try to avoid loss No. 17 Saturday afternoon, they'll send out Mark Williamson, who has a 7.00 ERA. It will be his first start of the year, the third of his brief career.

    But give the Orioles credit for something: a sense of humor. As they continued to endure the most humiliating stretch in the history of a once-great franchise, they announced a plan to welcome the team back home after this trip.

    That'll be May 2 when the losing streak could be a major-league-record 24 games. Today, the team announced a Fantastic Fans Night for that game, and it will include prizes, marching bands and a magician.

    Tonight's game was over almost before it began. Wilson, Kevin Seitzer, George Brett, Danny Tartabull, Jim Eisenreich and Frank White started the home first with singles to make it 4-0.

    "I never got started," Morgan said. "I know Frank's mad, but I wouldn't change anything. I'm not accepting it. I was bearing down the whole way. It's unbelievable."

    Robinson waved in reliever Dave Schmidt, who promptly allowed Jackson's RBI single before getting Mike Macfarlane on a bouncer to the mound. Kurt Stillwell tripled to right for two more runs and Wilson tripled to right for the eighth. He raced home on Cal Ripken's error, and that was that.

    The Royals got another off Doug Sisk in the sixth, and Jackson hit one of Tom Niedenfuer's fastballs over the right-field wall in the seventh.

    Meanwhile, the Orioles did nothing with Mark Gubicza (3-1), who pitched a three-hitter. The players accepted Robinson's tantrum quietly, and if it had lit a fire under any of them, it wasn't readily apparent.

    Asked about lineup changes, Robinson said: "I just walked off the field after one of the worst games in my life. I'm not thinking about any lineup changes."

    Orioles Notes:

    Third baseman Rick Schu (sore elbow) went on the 15-day disabled list and outfielder Tito Landrum is back from Rochester. Rene Gonzales played third base.

    © Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company

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