BALTIMORE, JUNE 22 -- BALTIMORE, June 22 -- What's black, orange and white and sits dead in the water? The Baltimore Orioles without Mike Boddicker.
Tonight, the Orioles, with enough problems as it is, acquired another one 6 1/3 innings into their game against the New York Yankees before 26,331 at Memorial Stadium.
At that point, right-hander Boddicker, who had retired 19 of 24 batters and had the punchless Orioles in a 3-2 lead, was removed because of stiffness in his pitching arm.
Luis DeLeon entered and four batters later, Baltimore trailed, 5-3. Three batters after that, it was 7-3, courtesy of Eric Bell. And that's the way it ended as the Orioles managed just one hit off starter Dennis Rasmussen and Cecilio Guante for the rest of the game.
The defeat was the second in a row for the Orioles, who have lost seven of their last eight games, 17 of 19, and 21 of 24. They have lost 10 of their last 12 home games and 14 of their last 17. They are 2-22 against AL East Division teams other than the Cleveland Indians. And they are now within two games of losing the distinction of being the only AL team with an all-time winning record against the Yankees.
Yes, things really are that bad.
"There are games on the schedule and nobody is going to call those off," said Manager Cal Ripken Sr. "So we're going to dig down a little deeper and we're going to play a little harder and see if we can't play our way out of this thing. If we have to go on without Boddicker, we will go on without Boddicker."
A scary thought, to be sure.
"It's like a dull toothache in my arm," Boddicker said as if this were perfectly routine. "It started early, but I thought I could pitch through it. I've had it before. At certain times of the year you get it, like in spring training you get the dead arm. Tonight, it just never worked out. It just kept getting sorer and sorer.
"We will see how it feels tomorrow after I throw on the side or play catch. You can't tell how it's going to feel. I iced it twice tonight and right now I can't feel a thing. It's up and down the muscles in my arm."
Other than Boddicker, whose earned average is around 2.85, the Orioles starters have a combined record of 12-25 with an ERA of 6.14. The bullpen is not a whole lot better. Tonight was the 12th time this season it has blown a lead, the 11th time it has done so in the seventh inning or later.
DeLeon, essentially untainted since his June 12 call-up from Rochester, needed just 21 pitches tonight to change that.
Inheriting base runner Dan Pasqua, walked by Boddicker, DeLeon walked Mark Salas and hit Henry Cotto, loading the bases. Wayne Tolleson, four for his previous 39 at-bats, hit a chopper to the right of the mound. First baseman Eddie Murray came in to field the ball but was distracted as DeLeon, attempting to cover first, ran directly in front of him. Second baseman Alan Wiggins ended up with the ball and no play as Pasqua scored the tying run on the scratch hit.
Willie Randolph made the score 5-3 with a double down the left field line on an 0-2 pitch. After pinch hitter Gary Ward walked to reload the bases, Ripken brought on Bell, who pitched 6 1/3 innings Saturday night.
Bell struck out pinch hitter Ron Kittle, but then surrendered a two-run single to Dave Winfield. Had Mike Pagliarulo not started the inning by grounding to Murray and ended it by flying to Ken Gerhart in center field, who knows what might have happened.
"We just wanted to get something going," said Randolph, who is leading New York in hitting with Rickey Henderson and Don Mattingly still on the disabled list. "After Boddicker went out, we just took advantage of the next guy."
Earlier, it was the Orioles taking advantage. Terry Kennedy gave them a 2-0 lead in the second inning with a two-run home run. The line drive, on a 2-2 pitch, landed just inside the right field foul pole and just above the wall. It was Kennedy's 13th homer of the year and the 21st surrendered by Rasmussen, who had hit leadoff batter Mike Young with a 2-2 pitch.
Boddicker, who came into the game having lost his last three starts while the Orioles had scored a total of 10 runs, proceeded to give every indication he was going to make that lead stand up.
He retired 13 of the first 14 he faced without giving up a hit. New York's third hitter, Mike Easler, reached in the first, when third baseman Ray Knight, after making a nice backhand stop of a hard grounder, short-hopped Murray with the throw.
Salas removed any threat of a no-hitter with two out in the fifth, when he singled cleanly past Wiggins into right-center on a 1-2 pitch.
Meantime, the Orioles missed chances to extend the lead in both the fourth and the fifth. Kennedy hit a two-out double in the fourth, but was stranded when Lee Lacy struck out looking. Rick Burleson led off the fifth with a double and moved to third on Gerhart's sacrifice, but was left when Wiggins popped to shallow center and Cal Ripken Jr. grounded to third.
New York took advantage of that, too. Boddicker closed the fifth and opened the sixth in good shape, but then Randolph singled and Claudell Washington tied the score with a homer that landed just above the 360-foot sign in right.
The Orioles almost immediately regained the lead when Murray homered to lead off the home sixth. Murray's 13th homer of the season was his first since May 22, for his second RBI in his last 20 games.
Boddicker retired Pagliarulo to start the seventh, but then walked Pasqua. Suddenly, Ripken Sr. popped out of the dugout and, to a cascade of boos, walked to the mound. After a prolonged conversation, Boddicker headed for the locker room and the ice chest.
"As far as I know," Boddicker said, "it will be fine. We'll have to wait and see."