MARLINS 4, ORIOLES 0
MIAMI Last night’s game between the Baltimore Orioles and Florida Marlins at Pro Player Stadium had all sorts of implications.
For the Marlins, the game had playoff implications. A win would put them one game over .500 and allow them to climb back into the playoff picture in the National League East.
For the Orioles, the game had mediocrity implications. A loss would put them 10 games under .500 the furthest distance from a winning record all year.
Both teams were implicated last night. The Marlins earned a 4-0 win and got closer to the top, while the Orioles got nearer to the bottom.
Florida left-hander Jesus Sanchez (2-0), who was making his second career start as a substitute for the injured Brad Penny, put the stamp of mediocrity on the Orioles (41-51), losers of nine of their last 11 games. Sanchez held the Orioles to just two hits, striking out seven over seven innings.
His only other career start came, not coincidentally, against the Orioles on July 18 of last year at Camden Yards a 7-0 shutout. The last thing the Orioles needed was to face a pitcher who thrived against them. On Sunday, they got just five hits in a 7-1 loss to the Marlins. Through 18 innings against Florida (47-46), they have managed just one run on seven hits. Manager Mike Hargrove is desperately searching for ways to wake up the offense.
He shook up the lineup last night, leading off with Melvin Mora instead of Jerry Hairston.
“I would like somebody to get on base for us,” Hargrove said before the game. “It’s tough to get anything started without baserunners.”
The move failed to accomplish its goal. Mora went 0-for-4. The only Orioles to get hits were Jeff Conine and Mike Kinkade, both of whom doubled but were stranded.
Hargrove said the offensive woes could be chalked up to inexperience.
“This is like how we were earlier in the season,” he said. “Guys are getting good hitter counts and swinging at bad pitches. It’s not one particular guy. It’s a group effort. It happens with young guys. We’ll be okay, but we have to fight our way out of it.”
The Marlins scored three times in the fifth inning. David Berg led off with a double to left but was thrown out at third on a fielder’s choice when Sanchez bunted. Eric Owens followed with a single to right, and Alex Gonzalez doubled to score Sanchez and Owens and give Florida a 2-0 lead.
Cliff Floyd, who came into the game with a .347 average and is one of the hottest hitters in the NL, singled to right, scoring Gonzalez for a 3-0 Marlins lead.
Floyd added another run in the eighth inning with a homer against reliever Alan Mills. Mills came into the game to relieve starter Jose Mercedes (4-10), who pitched well enough to win, allowing three runs on six hits and three walks in seven innings.
The crowd of 16,177 wasn’t satisfied with just a Marlins win, though. It wanted a chance to see Cal Ripken, who is on his farewell tour in his final season. Ripken played Sunday, the first game of the series here, which drew more than 25,000, about 8,000 more than the average attendance. But he was not in the lineup last night, and despite chants of “We want Cal” in the final innings, he never made an appearance.
Notes First baseman David Segui was limping around the Orioles clubhouse before the game. He reinjured his sore left knee when his spikes got caught while swinging in the first inning of Sunday’s game. Hargrove said Segui is day-to-day and after the game said an MRI performed yesterday failed to show any damage. He will be examined by team doctors when the Orioles return to Baltimore tomorrow, Hargrove said. Segui refused to talk about his status, saying, “I don’t talk about injuries.
Pitcher Pat Hentgen was willing to talk about his recovery from a sprained right elbow. He has been on the disabled list since May 17 and has started a throwing program of long tosses and limited pitching stints in the bullpen.
“I’ve been throwing without any discomfort,” Hentgen said. “I haven’t had any setbacks.”
Hargrove said if Hentgen continues to progress, he likely will have a minor league rehabilitation stint, with possibly three or four starts, before returning to the rotation.