- The Washington Times - Thursday, May 2, 2002

BOSTON If the Baltimore Orioles' month of April seemed vaguely familiar, that's probably because it bore striking resemblance to last season.

The Orioles can only hope the rest of the 2002 season doesn't play out like 2001.

Baltimore opened its May schedule last night against the Boston Red Sox, owning a somewhat surprising 12-14 record. That mirrored the team's record on this date one year ago, but there are less obvious similarities between the two seasons.

The Orioles won on Opening Day last season, then proceeded to go through a prolonged hitting funk before coming around to win seven of 10 games.

This year, they won on Opening Day, lost six in a row, then rallied to win eight of 10.

Given the difficult schedule they faced to open the season (18 of 26 games against the Yankees, Red Sox and White Sox), manager Mike Hargrove was somewhat pleased with a record two games under .500.

"I certainly would have liked to have gotten here in a different way than we got here," Hargrove said. "But I think realistically playing Boston three [series], the Yankees twice and the White Sox once baseball experts would not expect us to be where we're at."

If the rest of the 2002 season resembles 2001 at all, Hargrove may not have such a positive take on matters. The Orioles opened the month of May by going 12-10 and reaching the .500 mark, but proceeded to post a 44-74 record the rest of the way en route to a 98-loss season.

Less from Mora

Utility player Melvin Mora, who has become an everyday player at a variety of positions, is battling flu-like symptoms and sat out last night's game.

Mora has been one of the Orioles' most productive players with 20 walks (third in the American League), seven steals (fourth) and a .455 on-base percentage (fourth).

But he hasn't been quite the same player since returning from Venezuela last week following the funeral for his brother, Jose, who was the apparent victim of a contract murder. Over his last nine games, Mora is 6-for-34, though he has still been reaching base at a solid clip, getting on 15 times during that span.

"I don't think it has anything to do with his trip home when his brother got killed," Hargrove said. "He's obviously been a lot more somber than before, but his on-base percentage is still up around .460, so some things he's doing are still good or better."

Extra bases

Catcher Geronimo Gil's stretched right hamstring and left groin are improving, but he was still unavailable last night, leaving the Orioles with Brook Fordyce behind the plate and utility infielder Mike Moriarty as the emergency backup. Tony Batista's 24 RBI and nine doubles were the second-highest April totals in club history. Mike Bordick had 29 RBI in April 2000, and Cal Ripken had 10 doubles in April 1996.


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