Orioles Limp into the Apple: Injuries and Slump Cast Pall on Showdown with Yankees
Seifert, Kevin, The Washington Times (Washington, DC)
MIAMI - The bullpen is short, the lineup is hobbled from top to bottom, and their armor is showing noticeable cracks. They've lost three consecutive series, seven of nine games and five straight after being swept by the Florida Marlins. Runners are getting thrown out at home and picked off second by the catcher - and help is at least one minor league playoff series away.
Ready or not, with an emphasis on the latter, the Baltimore Orioles are invading Yankee Stadium.
After finishing their interleague business last night by losing to the Marlins 7-6 - appropriately enough, part of the dugout roof fell in, although nobody was hurt - the Orioles open a four-game series with the equally lifeless New York Yankees tonight with their shakiest starting pitcher on the mound and a roster in its worst health of the year. At a time when they would have liked to take advantage of a substantial American League East lead over the Yankees to fine-tune for the postseason, the Orioles instead are fighting to regain the form that pushed them as high as 39 games above .500.
"What I think about going into a big series like this is that we're going to use all of our arsenal," manager Davey Johnson said. "But we're trying to get healthy, too. I know we want to beat them as much they want to beat us, and that's putting it nicely. . . . [But] the last three or four days, I haven't felt like I've been managing. I've felt like a military nurse in the ward tending to the troops."
Behind starter Rick Krivda, who has a 7.77 earned-run average in five starts since being recalled from Class AAA Rochester, the Orioles will attempt to reverse their recent trend against the team that is chasing them in the AL East. Luckily for the Orioles, the Yankees are playing just as badly. Last night they lost their third straight to the last-place Philadelphia Phillies.
But after dropping two out of three games each to the Kansas City Royals and New York Mets and then being swept by the Marlins, the Orioles look more like the team that went 12-17 between June 17 and July 20 than the one that rolled to 25 victories in 32 games after that slump.
Johnson says he has never seen more ice used in a major league clubhouse, and injuries have certainly played a part in the recent slide. Having previously been determined to extend a courtesy to their minor league affiliates, the Orioles held an organizational teleconference yesterday to discuss the possibility of recalling several players to add depth to the roster.
The Orioles used pitchers to pinch-run in each of their first two games against the Marlins, and Class AA outfielder David Dellucci, Class AAA pitchers Nerio Rodriguez and Esteban Yan and others were discussed yesterday, but assistant general manager Kevin Malone said he does not expect any call-ups in the next several days.
"Some things that had not been previously considered were talked about," Malone said. …