- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 6, 2000


NEW YORK After missing the past two games to attend his son's high school graduation, Mike Hargrove made up for lost time by cramming a game's worth of managerial decisions into one pivotal inning.
The moves Hargrove made didn't quite go according to plan last night, but they were good enough to help the Orioles score two runs to break open a tie game, sparking them to a 4-2 win over the New York Mets before 25,192 fans who braved an unseasonably cold and windy night at Shea Stadium.
The win snapped a five-game losing streak for the Orioles (24-31) and gave them their first victory in four interleague games. The Mets fell to 31-26.
With the game tied 2-2 in the seventh inning, Mark Lewis hit a single. With pitcher Mike Mussina up next, Hargrove was forced to think like a National League skipper: He could have his pitcher bunt or opt for a bat off the bench.
Hargrove had Harold Baines warming up in the on-deck circle but recalled him and had Mussina bunt. The decision looked iffy when Mussina's bunt was too hard and allowed pitcher Mike Hampton to throw out Lewis at second.
Rich Amaral made up for Mussina's gaffe by drawing a walk. With Mussina's arm tightening up in the cold air at second base, Hargrove chose to pinch-run for Mussina with his fleetest player, Delino DeShields.
The move paid off immediately. Mike Bordick hit a single to shallow center, and DeShields scampered home just ahead of Jay Payton's throw. Albert Belle followed with a single one out later to score Amaral and make it 4-2.
Hargrove said Mussina wouldn't have pitched the seventh inning regardless because he already had thrown 119 pitches. He replaced him with DeShields because "Mussina probably hasn't had to slide in 10 years and I didn't want him getting hurt."
Hargrove said he enjoyed the NL-style strategy "as long as I call the right shot. When I don't call the right shot, it [stinks]."
Replacing Mussina (3-6) was a risky move, especially since he looked sharp, recovering from a shaky second inning to retire 12 of the last 14 batters he faced. It was the fifth straight strong start for the Orioles' ace, who seems to have recovered from what he termed the worst stretch of his career. He has allowed just nine runs the past 35 innings.
By pinch-running for Mussina, Hargrove showed confidence in a bullpen that has rarely warranted it this season with 14 blown saves. But Mike Trombley pitched two perfect innings and Mike Timlin a perfect ninth for his fifth save.
"I don't think [Hargrove] ever lost confidence in us, even when we were struggling," Timlin said. "But it's nice to get the nod in a close game and go out, as a unit, and get the job done."
It was all part of a strange game that featured the Mets getting five infield hits off Mussina and only one hit that made it into the outfield. Naturally, the way things are going for the Orioles right now, that was still enough to put them in an early deficit.
With two outs in the second, Melvin Mora beat out a bunt and Hampton hit a hard shot off the glove of a diving Cal Ripken. Jason Tyner, who was making his major league debut, followed with a bloop single that landed in front of B.J. Surhoff in left field to score Mora.
Mussina, whose control has been immaculate the past four games a combined seven walks then issued consecutive free passes, with the second one bringing home Hampton to make it 2-0.
The Orioles got one back in the third when Amaral singled, stole second and scored on a Belle single. Surhoff set the stage for the comeback by leading off the seventh with a solo homer that tied the game.

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