- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 20, 2002

BALTIMORE Anyone who spent the second inning of last night's Baltimore Orioles-Tampa Bay Devil Rays game stuck in line at the concession stand might have thought Travis Driskill pitched well.
Those who witnessed the top half of the second inning in person politely would have to disagree.
Faster than you can race up the concourse, order a hot dog, nachos and soda and race back to your seat, Driskill was tagged for seven runs by the Devil Rays. Turns out they didn't need any more offense, because their one big inning was enough to secure a 7-3 victory before 24,578 sweaty fans at Camden Yards.
The game-time temperature at the ballpark was announced as 100 degrees. By the time the seventh Tampa Bay runner crossed the plate, Driskill also was feeling the heat.
A cavalcade of boos rained down upon the 31-year-old rookie pitcher, who was struggling through far and away the worst outing of his brief major-league career.
"I didn't locate the fastball, and I just told myself I've got to throw something else that I can throw for strikes," Driskill said. "That's not my game. I got away from my game."
"He went totally away from his fastball," manager Mike Hargrove said. "That probably bothered me as much as anything. I think having experienced this, he and we, will be better."
Driskill did manage to right the ship, holding the last-place Devil Rays scoreless until he departed with two outs in the sixth. Officially, only three of the seven runs he allowed were earned, the result of Tony Batista's throwing error with two outs in the inning.
That was little consolation, however, for Driskill or the Orioles on a forgettable night at the ballpark.
Baltimore once again fell flat against a team it should be beating easily. Hargrove continues to downplay the unusual disparity between his club's record against good opponents and bad ones, but it's hard to ignore the facts.
The Orioles are 16-11 this season against the New York Yankees, Minnesota Twins and Seattle Mariners the three teams leading their respective American League divisions.
Meanwhile, Baltimore is 11-19 against the Devil Rays, Toronto Blue Jays and Detroit Tigers owners of three of the four worst records in the AL.
Last night's lopsided loss to Tampa Bay really shouldn't have come as much of a surprise, considering the way the Devil Rays have played and the way Paul Wilson has pitched against the Orioles.
Making what was amazingly his sixth start of the year vs. Baltimore, Wilson allowed three runs in eight innings and in the process improved to 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA against his favorite opponent. His numbers against the rest of the majors: 2-7 with a 4.10 ERA.
Of course, Wilson's Devil Rays have enjoyed far more success against the Orioles than anyone else. With last night's victory, they improved to 9-7 when facing Baltimore; they are 33-75 otherwise.
Driskill's second-inning collapse came so quickly there had to be more than a few fans who missed it entirely. With one out, Ben Grieve poked a first-pitch fastball over the left-field fence for a solo homer. Five pitches later, Chris Gomez duplicated the feat to make it 2-0.
Driskill (8-6) retired the next batter for the second out, but Tampa Bay strung together three straight singles to send cleanup hitter Jared Sandberg to the plate. Still, Driskill appeared to get out of the inning when Sandberg grounded to third. Batista's throw, though, skipped past first baseman Jeff Conine, allowing one run to score and the inning to continue.
A wild pitch (one of two in the inning by Driskill) brought another run home, and Steve Cox capped it all off by crushing a two-run homer over the right-field scoreboard to make it 7-0.
"I showed Steve Cox, I think, five curveballs in a row and he finally got one he could handle and hit out of the ballpark," Driskill said.
Marty Cordova salvaged some pride for the Orioles by hitting a two-run homer in the bottom half of the inning to make it 7-2. Batista launched his team-leading 23rd homer of the season in the fourth.
But by then, the game already had been decided, and Baltimore was well on its way to another head-shaking loss.
"You see things start happening that are not typical of the players involved or the ballclub," said Hargrove, referring to Tampa Bay's seven-run second inning. "It's upsetting, frustrating. You're going to have these types of innings in 162 games of baseball. The whole key is how you respond to them, and I thought we responded well. We just gave away too many runs to get anything going."
Notes Sidney Ponson, out since Aug. 6 with a slightly torn labrum in his right shoulder, said yesterday he plans to pitch again this season, though doctors have not determined whether he needs surgery.
"Believe me, I'm pitching within two weeks," Ponson said. "I just need to throw in the bullpen, see how it feels and then go from there."
Pat Hentgen, recovering from last August's Tommy John surgery, is scheduled to make his fourth rehab start tonight at Class A Aberdeen.

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