- The Washington Times - Monday, September 3, 2001


BALTIMORE Rick Bauer deserved better.

The Baltimore Orioles' rookie hurler made his major league debut yesterday afternoon against the best team in baseball, the Seattle Mariners, pitched 6-1/3 stellar innings and gave up only three hits. But his offensively inept teammates couldn't provide him even one run, and the Orioles dropped a 1-0 decision to Seattle at Camden Yards.

The Orioles had a grand opportunity to beat the Mariners and end Seattle's record road series winning streak, but the hosts had two runners thrown out at the plate, including one in the ninth inning.

With runners at first and second and one out in the ninth, Cal Ripken ripped a single to left off closer Kazuhiro Sasaki. Mark McLemore, a former Oriole and not a full-time outfielder, gunned down Melvin Mora, who ran through third-base coach Tom Trebelhorn's stop sign, at the plate. Tony Batista flied out to end the game.

"I saw the sign… . In my mind, I was thinking to score, that's it," said Mora, who added he thought that if he stopped after rounding the base, he might have been caught getting back to third. "The past 25 or 30 games, we haven't scored a lot of runs, so you have to make something happen."

But Mora was out on a close play at the plate, and the Orioles were left with another tough loss in what has become a season full of them. The Orioles finished their homestand 1-8, the worst nine-game home string in team history.

Seattle had not lost a series in its last 27 road series, a major league record, going into its weekend set in Baltimore and was five wins from breaking the American League mark for road victories in a season. It seemed improbable, at best, that the Orioles (55-81) would stand as the team to end the amazing streak.

They were right there yesterday, though, courtesy of Bauer and two relievers who limited the Mariners to four hits.

Bauer (0-1) held the highest-scoring team in baseball scoreless for the first six innings, presenting his teammates with a golden opportunity to score some early runs and maybe take the rubber game of the series. But the Orioles couldn't get anything going on offense either.

Bret Boone, who leads the AL in RBI and stands as a huge reason why the Mariners have been so dominant this season, homered on Bauer's first offering a pitch Bauer said "didn't do anything" of the seventh inning. Bauer then walked two of the next three batters he faced and was lifted in favor of Jorge Julio, who escaped the jam with two strikeouts.

Bauer held Seattle hitless through the first three innings. Besides Boone's homer, he yielded just two infield singles. Mariners manager Lou Piniella held regulars John Olerud and Edgar Martinez, both top hitters at their respective positions, out of the starting lineup, but Bauer's performance was impressive nonetheless.

It was good enough that home plate umpire Ed Montague told Orioles manager Mike Hargrove he was impressed with the 24-year-old as the skipper walked to the dugout after removing Bauer.

"I was a little nervous [facing the Mariners] at first. I was like, 'Oh, you're going to throw me to the sharks real quick,' " Bauer said. "But I didn't think about it once I got out there. Those guys are tough. They don't miss any pitches. I couldn't strike any of those guys out."

Said Hargrove: "Rick threw the ball well and had good movement on his ball… . Umpires don't normally offer those opinions."

The Orioles had a chance to break the scoreless tie in the fourth inning, when Jeff Conine led off with a single and moved to second on a wild pitch. With two out, Brady Anderson belted a single to right, but displaying another example of his seemingly boundless talents Ichiro Suzuki came up throwing and nailed Conine at the plate with a dead-on, one-hop throw.

The scenario virtually duplicated itself five innings later, except the throw came from left field. But the result was the same, and the Orioles walked away losers yet again. They are now a season-worst 26 games under .500.

"It wasn't due to a lack of effort on anybody's part," Hargrove said. "It's amazing how good clubs get breaks. They kind of generate their own and take advantage of those opportunities. Someday we'll do that."

Note Willie Harris also made his major league debut yesterday, batting leadoff and starting in center field. Harris, 23, was promoted yesterday from Class AA Bowie, where he hit .305 in 130 games. Harris was fifth in the Eastern League in hits and second in steals (51). He went 0-for-2 with a sacrifice bunt and was pinch-hit for in the eighth inning.

To make room for Harris on the 40-man roster, the Orioles moved Mike Bordick from the 15-day disabled list to the 60-day DL.

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