It was an unpleasant summer rerun that the Orioles were forced to live through tonight. Butch Wynegar, the light-hitting Yankee catcher who defeated Tim Stoddard and the Orioles in an 11-inning game Monday, did it again, with only a slight variation on the script. The Orioles didn't like it any better the second time around.
When Wynegar, a 27-year-old catcher, lofted a two-out, 2-0 fast ball into the right field seats at Yankee Stadium in the 12th inning, it ended a frustrating evening and series for the Orioles.
Wynegar's fourth home run of the season sent the Orioles to a 4-3 loss, their sixth defeat in seven games and eighth in 12. It also dropped them two games behind first-place Toronto in the American League East.
In winning, the Yankees swept their three-game series with the Orioles climbed within 2 1/2 games of the Blue Jays. They trail Baltimore and Detroit by a half-game. As he had Monday, Rich Gossage (5-2) earned the victory. Stoddard (3-3), the fifth Oriole pitcher, took the loss.
The Orioles had been stymied by Yankee left-hander Ray Fontenot over the 5 2/3 innings of his major-league debut, but they tied the score, 3-3, in the ninth inning on a two-run double by catcher John Stefero.
They had a chance to win it in the 12th, when they sent runners to first and second. Rookie shortstop Bob Meacham, handling his first chance, bobbled Rich Dauer's grounder. Dauer tagged and went to second on Cal Ripken's fly to center, and Eddie Murray was walked intentionally. Meacham, however, compensated for his error when he made an outstanding play on Gary Roenicke's hard liner to short. He saved a run when he dived for the ball and ended the inning by flipping it to second for the force play.
After the loss, Orioles Manager Joe Altobelli slammed the door to his office and remained secluded for 20 minutes. "It's been a long night," Altobelli said after he had regained his composure. "Up until the ninth inning, we'd only scored only four runs in the series. We had a golden opportunity when Meacham fumbled that ball, but then he saved the inning . . .
"It's going to be a tight race, and we're going to have to try and sweep Detroit in our next series (starting Friday in Detroit) or take three of four to salvage something in the first half of the season."
Jim Palmer, who was scheduled to start tonight, will not accompany the Orioles to Detroit. Palmer, who complained of tenderness in his right shoulder, will return to Baltimore to undergo an examination of the shoulder. Dennis Martinez started tonight, and left after giving up a two-run home run to Oscar Gamble in the sixth inning, which gave New York a 3-1 lead.
Wynegar, who is usually met with indifference by the New York fans, ran out of adjectives to express his joy at completing the Yankees' sweep. "It's a tremendous experience. It's hard to explain to someone on the street," said Wynegar, who has improved his batting average to .307. "I don't have a home run trot."
He has had to learn one. "Stoddard is definitely a fast ball pitcher, so you know he's going to come at you," Wynegar said. "He got it belt high--almost the exact same pitching I hit Monday night. Thank goodness I got it over the wall. I was just doing a half-trot down to first."
Stoddard agreed that the pitch he threw to Wynegar was "a fast ball right down the middle of the plate. He hasn't hit me in the past, but he hit me this time. I was throwing good and I felt good, but I ended up making one mistake and losing the game. One pitch -- that's all it takes."
That was certainly the case tonight.
"It's nice to sweep anyone, but sweeping Baltimore is that little added intangible extra," Wynegar said. "We have Boston coming in now (for a four-game series) and if we can get within a game of first by the All-Star break, I don't think there will be any stopping us."
The Orioles purchased the contract of infielder Todd Cruz from the Seattle Mariners and optioned third baseman Leo Hernandez to Rochester. Hernandez hit .246 with six home runs and 26 RBI in 64 games. Cruz had been released by the Mariners last week. He is expected to join the Orioles in Detroit Friday night. Cruz, who is 27, hit .190 with seven home runs and 21 runs batted in 60 games with the Mariners . . . Michael Young's seventh-inning single was his first major-league hit.
The Yankees named Murray Cook their vice president and general manager. He replaces Bill Bergesch and Cedric Tallis, who were shifted to other front office roles. Cook, 42, joined the Yankees' organization last January as director of player personnel, after spending 21 years in the Pirates' organization. Bergesch will remain as vice president of baseball operations and Tallis will become a vice president and director of player development.