- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 19, 2001


BALTIMORE Stop us if this is starting to sound familiar: Pat Hentgen pitches well enough to win, gets no run support from his Baltimore Orioles teammates and still accepts the blame for a loss.

The scene played out for the fourth time last night at Camden Yards, with Hentgen the hard-luck loser yet again in a 4-1 defeat by the Cleveland Indians. He has yet to win this season despite having given up a total of nine runs in four starts.

Baltimore's offense has been even more stagnant during Hentgen's appearances than in most other games. With last night's loss, the Orioles (6-9) have totaled five runs in Hentgen's four starts.

"You like for people to get rewarded for the jobs that they do, you really do," manager Mike Hargrove said. "But nobody in the world ever said anything is going to be fair. Bottom line: You go out and do your job, and if it doesn't work, you go out and try it again the next time… . If Pat continues to pitch like that, Pat's going to do himself and the Baltimore Orioles a lot of good."

Last night, however, Cleveland's Bartolo Colon was the star, tossing eight shutout innings against a Baltimore offense that was about to be held to four or fewer hits for the fifth time until Greg Myers picked up No. 5 in the ninth. Chris Richard drove in Myers with a double that helped the Orioles avoid their third shutout.

Colon (2-1) barely broke a sweat, though that might have been a result of the frigid conditions. The hard-throwing right-hander gave up only two solid hits singles to right-center by Myers in the second inning and Mike Kinkade in the eighth.

"I think I saw 100 [mph] up there one time [on the pitch speed scoreboard," Kinkade said. "With a guy like that, you just try to find a good pitch and put your bat on the ball."

Colon walked two and struck out six, getting into a jam just once by loading the bases in the second. The situation was strikingly similar to that Tuesday night, when the Orioles loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the first only to see Cal Ripken ground into a double play. This time Colon got Kinkade, playing in place of Ripken, to ground to shortstop Omar Vizquel, who stepped on second and fired to first for a inning-ending double play.

Colon allowed just three more Orioles to reach base Kinkade twice on singles and Mike Bordick on an error before giving way to closer Bob Wickman in the ninth.

The Indians scored a pair of runs in the third inning, and though it seemed like it wasn't Hentgen's fault, the pitcher actually took the blame. After giving up a two-out single to Einar Diaz, Hentgen appeared out of the inning when he got Kenny Lofton to pop up behind the mound. Both third baseman Kinkade and shortstop Bordick converged on the ball, and Kinkade seemed to give way to Bordick. Both, however, gave up on the play and watched as the ball fell to the ground for a single.

As it turns out, Hentgen did what he every pitcher is supposed to in that situation and called out the name of the fielder who should make the play. So he blurted out "Mike," meaning Bordick, but forgetting that both players share the same first name.

"I reacted and just said, 'Mike, Mike,' " Hentgen said. "To not use the last name is a rookie mistake, flat and simple. Those are the little things that can sometimes win or lose a ballgame."

The play was greeted with a round of boos from the crowd of 28,801 at Camden Yards, which really let the Orioles hear it one batter later when Vizquel singled to right to score both runners and give the Indians a 2-0 lead.

After three straight fine outings to start the season, Hentgen never seemed to find his groove last night. Entering the game, he had walked two batters (one intentionally) in 23 2/3 innings. By the time he departed with two out in the sixth, he had walked three.

The last two, which were issued back-to-back in the top of the sixth, led directly to two Cleveland runs. As he had done in the third, Hentgen retired the first two batters before getting into trouble. Juan Gonzalez singled to center, then Jim Thome and Ellis Burks drew walks. Marty Cordova followed with a two-run single to right, stretching the lead to 4-0 and driving Hentgen (0-2) from the game.

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