One Bad Inning Chills Morgan, Orioles
By Richard Justice
It was a night when fastballs stung hands, a night for easy groundouts and a night for getting home quickly. Which is what happened. Chris Bosio's efficient five-hitter took just more than two hours tonight as the Milwaukee Brewers handed the Baltimore Orioles a second straight loss, 3-1, before an announced crowd of 13,487.
Bosio outdueled Mike Morgan, who was also excellent, going nine innings and allowing six hits and a walk.
Morgan's problem was that four of the six hits were bunched in Milwaukee's three-run sixth inning. All of the runs were scored after Morgan retired the first two batters of the inning. The breakthrough came when Dale Sveum took a swipe at a high-and-outside two-strike fastball and poked it over the right field seats.
Three hitters later, B.J. Surhoff slapped a two-run double up the alley into left-center, and the Orioles were headed for their first 0-2 start in four years.
But unlike Monday's opener when they stacked bonehead play on top of bonehead play, the Orioles were at their best tonight, turning two double plays and playing a near-flawless game. It was enough to make a manager proud.
"We played an excellent ball game," Manager Cal Ripken Sr. said. "That's the way we're capable of playing. We play like this and we'll be okay. Morgan pitched an excellent game, but you can't take anything away from Bosio. He was good. But when our offense gets straightened out, we're going to be okay. These are the things we're capable of doing."
After being shut out by Teddy Higuera on opening day, the Orioles scored their first run in the second inning. Eddie Murray led off with a single, went to second on a balk and came home on back-to-back infield grounders.
Other than that, they had only two runners in scoring position, Rick Schu with a triple in the second and Bill Ripken with a single and stolen base in the third. They had just two base runners after Ripken's single and one of those was erased by a double play.
On the night, Bill Ripken and Milwaukee second baseman Jim Gantner handled nine grounders apiece, and both pitchers credited their defense for bringing complete games right out of spring training.
"The defense kept me out there, no question about that," Morgan said. "We're going to win a lot of games if we play like this. I made a couple of mistakes, but I have to give them credit. When I made a mistake they hit it."
The 1-0 lead held up until Sveum's second homer in as many games tied it. Paul Molitor (on base six times in two games) doubled to left and went to third on Robin Yount's infield hit. That's when Morgan made his only legitimately awful pitch of the night, getting a high fastball up to Surhoff.
"It was right over the plate," Morgan said. "He could just as easily have popped it up, but that's not the way it's going for us right now."
Surhoff said, "He got it up, but it seemed the wind took it a little."
Morgan didn't allow runners to reach second before or after the sixth. He got Rob Deer on a grounder to end the sixth and finished up with three perfect innings. He has led the majors in losses (34) the last two seasons, but because he's still young (28) and throws hard, the Orioles are hoping they've found themselves at least one reliable starting pitcher.
"I like what I saw," Ripken Sr. said. "I've liked him since the first day."
Even if Morgan had not allowed the last two runs, there was never an indication that Bosio would let the Orioles back in the game. A lot of baseball fans haven't heard of him, but at 26, he has a 93-mph fastball and a good hard slider and is another product of a farm system that is turning out players the way Toyota turns out Corollas.
"I felt really good tonight even though the weather was kind of chilly," he said. "I think it helped me in the later innings because I saved a little bit for later. I had a good sinker and was lucky to get a lot of ground balls."
So a year after starting 13-0 and 20-3, the Brewers have won their first two games of 1988.
"Pitching and defense," Manager Tom Trebelhorn said. "Bosio was a little shaky at the start, then all of a sudden he got in a groove, and Jimmy Gantner backed him up with some great defensive plays. We did have four straight two-out hits in that sixth, and I wouldn't want to rely on that kind of offense all year."
Trebelhorn's biggest temptation to go to closer Dan Plesac was in the ninth when Bill Ripken got his second hit, with Cal Ripken Jr. and Murray coming up. But Bosio stayed and got Ripken on an infield pop and Murray on a fly to center.
Orioles Notes: Ripken Sr. has changed his mind about starting rookie Oswald Peraza on Friday in Cleveland and will go with veteran Scott McGregor. A crowd of 70,000 is expected for that game, and Ripken didn't want to gamble sending a rookie. He'll go Saturday when only about 20,000 are expected . . .
Gruesome numbers: The Orioles have lost 74 of their last 94 games to American League East opponents and 17 of their last 20 to the Brewers . . . Jeff Stone hit in all 10 of his spring starts but has begun the season hitless in eight at-bats.
© Copyright 1988 The Washington Post Company