- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 17, 2002

BALTIMORE The word "resilient" was being tossed all around the Baltimore Orioles' clubhouse following yesterday's 6-1 win over the Seattle Mariners. There may be no better way to describe this unconventional team during this unconventional year.
The Orioles showed resiliency as a team by beating the AL West-leading Mariners for the fourth straight time. Scott Erickson made it personal by snapping a 13-start winless streak with a complete-game masterpiece at Camden Yards.
Baltimore will need time to find out whether it is resilient enough to overcome perhaps its biggest loss of the season shortstop Mike Bordick, who will be out at least a month with a fractured right kneecap.
That revelation, which came in the bottom of the eighth inning of one of the Orioles' most impressive wins of the year, tempered enthusiasm in the home clubhouse afterward. It also provided manager Mike Hargrove an opportunity to speak glowingly of his team's resilient nature and to say in no uncertain terms that he does not expect a sudden collapse.
"When everybody else in the world has given up on them and they have every reason in the world to go belly-up, they come back out the next day and battle even harder," Hargrove said. "So resilient, I think, is a good word."
Neither Bordick nor the Orioles initially thought his injury was serious enough to warrant a trip to the disabled list. When the 36-year-old shortstop crashed into Seattle's Carlos Guillen in the sixth inning of Monday night's 6-5 victory, he was more concerned about his aching head and didn't even realize his knee hurt until an inning later.
X-rays taken Monday night came back negative, but an MRI yesterday revealed a hairline fracture of the right kneecap. Bordick's right leg will be immobilized three weeks, meaning his return is likely at least a month away.
"I'm very disappointed, shocked," said Bordick, who leads all major-league shortstops with a .998 fielding percentage. "I can't believe it. It's just not what I expected, for sure."
This latest setback was eerily similar to the one the Orioles had last June, when Bordick separated his right shoulder in a collision at second base and missed the rest of the season. His absence, coupled with the prolonged losses of pitcher Pat Hentgen and first baseman David Segui, resulted in a 34-64 record the rest of the way.
Baltimore again faces a difficult test, with Bordick joining Segui (left wrist surgery) and Conine (strained right hamstring) on the DL. Even without the latter two in the lineup for the last month, the Orioles have hovered around the .500-mark and left for Toronto last night with a 45-46 record.
"This really hurts," second baseman Jerry Hairston said. "When you have Segui, Conine and now Bordy, those are three veteran guys. We've got to move on."
The Orioles did not announce a corresponding roster move yesterday. Melvin Mora, who has played primarily left field this year, started at shortstop yesterday and should get the majority of time there in Bordick's absence. It didn't take long to recognize Bordick's value. In the third inning, Mora threw wildly over first baseman Jay Gibbons' head for an error the first by a Baltimore shortstop in 74 games.
"We hadn't had an error there in 73 games, and the first game we have [someone else] in there, there's an error," Erickson said. "I just hope it doesn't affect us too bad."
If Erickson continues to pitch the way he did yesterday, it may not have much effect. The veteran right-hander had turned a combination of a bad luck and occasionally bad pitching into a 13-game winless streak but ended that dubious slump emphatically. He scattered six hits and a walk in his third complete game of the season.
Erickson's only other nine-inning outing came April 28 in a four-hit shutout at Kansas City, the last time he tasted victory before yesterday.
"That was a media thing to talk about," Erickson (4-9) said of the longest winless streak of his career. "I was pitching good; it just didn't work out for me."
Erickson's teammates made sure he had plenty of offensive support yesterday after scoring nine runs in his last five outings. The Orioles jumped on Mariners' starter Joel Pineiro the AL's ERA leader in the first inning when leadoff hitter Howie Clark doubled off the wall in his first career at-bat.
Clark, a 28-year-old rookie outfielder who was called up Monday after 10 seasons in the Orioles' minor-league system, came within a couple of feet of homering in his first major-league plate appearance. He settled for the double, eventually scoring Baltimore's first run of the game, and reveled in a standing ovation from the Camden Yards crowd of 39,783.
"The first at-bat, when they called my name, it was unbelievable," Clark said. "I can't wait to call my parents."
The Orioles never let up against Pineiro (10-4). Left fielder Marty Cordova crushed a two-run homer in the fourth, then added an RBI double in the sixth to account for Baltimore's sixth run of the game. Gary Matthews Jr. did his part earlier in the inning, hitting his fourth homer of the season, a solo shot down the right-field line.


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