Perhaps the Orioles could have used an All-Star fortnight rather than the brief hiatus the game provides, for tonight they put on a tired performance that indicated not rejuvenation but rather a continuation of their recent slide.
Baltimore opened the second half of the season and a 10-game homestand against Seattle, Oakland and California with a 3-0 loss to the Mariners, the last-place team in the American League's West Division, before 17,164. Toronto beat the Texas Rangers, 8-5, to go two games ahead of the Orioles in the East.
The Orioles were not aided in the least by Jim Beattie's (7-5) crafty pitching and the Mariners' three key double plays. But while Beattie limited the Orioles to four hits and loser Storm Davis (6-4) allowed 10, Baltimore did little to show they were primed for a second-half sprint.
"Everyone knows we're a second-half team," Ken Singleton said. "We have a long way to go. Everyone might have thought we should be beating up on Seattle, but they're probably out to impress people, which is just what they should be doing."
Third baseman Todd Cruz, who was acquired from the Mariners last week, had a distinctly unimpressive night in the field, as Baltimore's concern over that position continues.
General Manager Hank Peters, who held a private meeting with Manager Joe Altobelli after the game, reserved judgment on his newest player. "Look," he said, "Cruz had six RBI in his first game for us. He booted one for a run tonight, but I don't think you can draw any conclusions on him yet."
Beattie, who has only a 22-36 record since coming to the Mariners in a trade with the Yankees for Ruppert Jones three years ago, certainly put a damper on Baltimore tonight.
Beattie said, "At times I was trying to be too fine," but the tall right-hander with the thinning red hair turned from his slider to a low fast ball to force the Orioles into numerous ground balls.
"Beattie's always had a great arm, I've always liked him," Altobelli said.
Eight games ago, the Mariners fired Rene Lachemann and hired Del Crandall. For the past six seasons, Crandall managed the Dodgers' Albequerque affiliate in the Pacific Coast League to five first-place finishes.
"Del brings us a winning attitude," Beattie said.
Crandall, though, missed tonight's game, leaving the managing chores to Chuck Cottier. Crandall was attending his son's wedding and will not return to the team until Sunday.
"Must be a hell of a reception," said Seattle pitcher Bill Caudill.
The ceremonies here tonight began slowly. Mistakes followed.
Richie Zisk led off with a single to left against Davis. Pat Putnam then grounded to Cruz. Ordinarily, the Orioles would have taken a pair of outs, but Putnam reached first safely. Al Cowens grounded to Cal Ripken at shortstop. Putnam had run with the pitch, however, and Ripken could only get the runner at first.
Davis then walked Jamie Allen and Cruz mishandled Dave Henderson's ground ball. That loaded the bases and catcher Rick Sweet came to the plate.
After Davis' second pitch to Sweet, catcher Rick Dempsey saw Putnam leading too far toward home. Dempsey threw to third and appeared to have Putnam beaten for the third out, but Cruz dropped the ball and the opportunity.
Three pitches later, Davis walked Sweet, forcing in Putnam, and the Mariners took a 1-0 lead with just one hit in the inning.
In the sixth, Putnam singled and took second on a wild pitch. Cowens then followed with an RBI single to right. Two innings later, the Mariners scored their third run when Richie Zisk doubled past Eddie Murray along the first base line. John Moses came in to run for Zisk and had his opportunity straight away when Putnam singled to left.
The Orioles released a statement concerning rumors that have been circulating in the Baltimore area "to the effect that a member of the Orioles organization could be involved in a drug investigation being conducted by the FBI." Dana Carroll, special agent in charge of the FBI's Baltimore office, said the rumor was false. The Orioles had no further official comment . . .
Orioles relievers did not have their best day. In the early morning, Sammy Stewart was arrested and charged with driving while intoxicated. He was released on his own recognizance and was in uniform tonight. Later in the day, Tippy Martinez was admitted to Sinai Hospital in Baltimore with a high fever; he was in satisfactory condition tonight.