- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 24, 2001


BALTIMORE Anyone looking to explain the Baltimore Orioles' recent surge can cite a wealth of stats.

• The Orioles have scored five or more runs in 10 of their last 12 games after doing it 13 times in their first 33 games. They've scored five or more runs in an inning six times in those 12 games.

• Baltimore has won six of its last eight games, with Jeff Conine batting .455 with 13 RBI over that span and David Segui picking up eight RBI since returning from the disabled list.

• And after battering the Anaheim Angels 12-5 yesterday, the Orioles are now 13-7 against teams with records at or below .500.

Forget the stats, though. All that really matters is this: Baltimore is playing good baseball these days, and that's why the Orioles find themselves just three games under .500 nearly two months into a season many had given up on long before the first pitch was thrown at Camden Yards.

"The past couple of weeks, some good things have been happening," said shortstop Mike Bordick, one of five Orioles with at least two hits yesterday. "It was just a matter of time before everyone started getting involved."

Baltimore (21-24) has been winning games not off the performances of one or two players but off the entire roster. Yesterday every starter hit safely during a 15-hit barrage that failed to include a home run.

"Baseball is a game of cycles," manager Mike Hargrove said. "The trick is to keep the bad cycles short and the good cycles long. Hopefully, we'll keep this one going."

The Orioles took advantage of Anaheim starter Scott Schoeneweis' uncharacteristically poor outing. The Orioles pounded the left-hander for five runs in the first inning and three in the second, staking rookie pitcher Willis Roberts to an 8-0 lead.

They didn't do it with a barrage of big hits, but rather with a steady stream of singles, walks, infield hits and a couple of well-timed doubles (two of them by Segui).

"It was going to happen," said Delino DeShields, who beat out an infield grounder to help ignite the first-inning rally. "It's just a start right now. It's about having good at-bats, not trying to do too much and depending on the guy behind you that he can get it done if you don't."

Baltimore did all this against a pitcher who had epitomized consistency in his first eight starts. Schoeneweis (3-3) lasted at least six innings and gave up no more than four earned runs every time out until yesterday's fiasco, in which he allowed a franchise-record 11 runs in only four innings.

When Anaheim manager Mike Scioscia mercifully summoned Mark Lukasiewicz from the bullpen with the bases loaded in the fifth, Schoeneweis' ERA had ballooned from 3.04 to 4.48.

Schoeneweis' undoing gave Roberts a chance to work out some problems of his own. The rookie right-hander struggled through four straight innings in which he allowed at least two batters to reach base.

Sensing Roberts wasn't being aggressive enough his fastball was hovering around the 90 mph mark, not the usual 95 or 96 Hargrove made a rare visit to the mound without pulling his starter. He obviously got the message across, because Roberts (5-3) proceeded to record three strikeouts in the fifth inning, his last of the day.

"I would think that Willis learned something today," Hargrove said. "We really saw two different pitchers. We saw the pitcher that we saw the last time out for four innings, and all of a sudden in the fifth it clicked for him. He got his intensity back, he was aggressive, he wasn't dilly-dallying with his pitches. We're certainly going to make sure that he understands the difference between the two."

Roberts also appears to have fixed a kink in his delivery he would pause briefly in his windup that plagued him during his last two starts but doesn't seem to be a problem when he's giving his all on the mound.

"When I'm aggressive, my mechanics are fine, everything's fine," he said. "I think next time, I'll be aggressive."

Notes Right-hander Pat Hentgen will throw a pregame bullpen session again today after cutting Tuesday's session short because of continued stiffness in his pitching shoulder. Hentgen said he continues to feel better each day and has no doubt he will make his scheduled start Sunday against the Texas Rangers… .

Catcher Brook Fordyce, who went 2-for-4 yesterday, has batted .304 over his last 13 games to raise his average to .207… . The Orioles are urging fans who held tickets to Tuesday night's rainout to use them for tonight's 7:05 makeup game. Fans may still exchange their tickets for any remaining Monday through Thursday game

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