- The Washington Times - Friday, April 13, 2001


BOSTON With a cold, steady drizzle falling all day, the Baltimore Orioles' dugout at Fenway Park was fairly wet throughout last night's game with the Boston Red Sox.
Jose Mercedes' fifth-inning upheaval of two Powerade coolers, however, left the place drenched.
The usually calm Baltimore right-hander lost his composure after a disastrous outing in the Orioles' 8-2 loss. Upon his removal in the fifth inning, Mercedes was razzed by fans behind the third-base dugout. He made an obscene gesture, then picked up a half-full cooler sitting on the dugout steps and flung it toward the side wall, nearly hitting a police officer.
He repeated the scene with another cooler for good measure, drawing a huge uproar from the 30,083 in attendance.
"Sometimes you get yelled at so much that your patience goes off, maybe for only one second or two seconds," said Mercedes, who was obviously rattled by the fans. "We're all human beings, and we do all kinds of stuff. Sometimes we feel like jumping up [in the stands], but we can't do that. Hopefully, that won't happen again."
Orioles manager Mike Hargrove was still at the mound talking to reliever Calvin Maduro when the outburst occurred.
"I didn't even know he threw the coolers until I got back, looked down and saw ice everywhere," Hargrove said. "Usually when someone starts throwing something like that, you get out of the way so you don't get wet and hope that they don't hurt themselves."
Now Baltimore heads home for a four-game series against Tampa Bay with reason to be concerned about the sudden state of its starting pitching. After a week of standout performances from their rotation, the Orioles received three straight bad outings from Mercedes, Sidney Ponson and Jason Johnson, who combined to give up 19 runs in 11 2/3 innings.
After nine games, the Orioles are still waiting for their first win from a starting pitcher. They're also still waiting to get some sustained offense. Through the first two innings last night, it appeared Baltimore might have broken through. Rookie Jay Gibbons drove in Mike Bordick with a double down the left-field line in the first inning off Boston starter Tomo Ohka (1-0).
Baltimore made it 2-0 in the second on a pair of doubles by Brook Fordyce and Jerry Hairston, but that was it. The Orioles failed to push another run across against Ohka (six innings) or Rolando Arrojo (three innings).
"Sometimes it's not always the fact that your hitting turns off," Hargrove said. "It's the fact that the pitcher makes an adjustment and becomes tougher. But any time you score runs early like that and don't capitalize on it, sure it's frustrating."
Mercedes was untouchable for three innings. He retired the first nine batters he faced, including three straight on strikeouts in the third, and very much resembled the pitcher that led the American League with 11 second-half wins last season. But the 30-year-old right-hander came unglued during a disastrous fourth inning in which the Red Sox sent 10 batters up and scored six runs on seven hits.
After Manny Ramirez struck out on a high fastball with the bases loaded, Troy O'Leary singled two runs home. Shea Hillenbrand and Craig Grebeck followed with run-scoring singles sandwiched around Brian Daubach's double.
After O'Leary tripled in two runs and Jason Varitek walked in the fifth, Hargrove yanked Mercedes (0-2 with a 10.12 ERA).

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