Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Sunday October 2 at the Blue Jays

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Outcome: L
Score: 3-9
Streak: L3
Record: 54-107
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

The Orioles's 1988 season came to an end on an overcast and drizzly afternoon in windswept Exhibition Stadium in Toronto.  Curt Schilling made his fourth start of the season and his career and didn't last very long. 

The Orioles played sloppy baseball in the first inning.  Tony Fernandez led off the game with a double and Nelson Liriano laid down a bunt in an attempt to sacrifice him to third.  Orioles catcher Carl Nichols decided to try to throw Fernandez out at third but his throw went down the left field line, allowing Fernandez to score and Liriano to reach second.  Rance Mulliniks lifted a fly ball to center field that Brady Anderson dropped, allowing Liriano to move to third and Mulliniks to pull into second.  A George Bell sacrifice fly brought Liriano with the second run of the inning.  With Ernie Whitt at the plate Schilling uncorked a wild pitch which moved Mulliniks up to third where he was able to score minutes later on Whitts' sacrifice fly.  A fly ball by Fred McGriff ended the inning but the Jays had scored 3 runs on one hit and two Oriole errors.

Toronto piled on further in the second.  With one out Rob Ducey singled and Alexis Infante drew a walk.  Fernandez brought both of them in to score by hitting a triple and then he scored when Liriano followed with another triple.  A sacrifice fly by Mullinks brought Liriano in with the fourth run of the inning and seventh run of the game.  Bell flew out to end the inning and Schilling's day.  Mark Williamson came in to pitch in the third inning.  Schilling had given up seven runs (although only five were earned) on four hits and a walk in two innings.  Every single baserunner he allowed on had scored.

Bell hit a two run home run off of Williamson in the fourth inning to make the score 9-0.  The Birds finally got on the board in the sixth inning on a two run home run by Larry Sheets, his tenth home run of the season.  They added another in the seventh on an RBI groundout by Craig Worthington to make the score 9-3.

This was the final Orioles game for several players.  Tom Niedenfuer pitched the fifth inning and Don Aase pitched the sixth and seventh innings.  Niedenfuer was granted free agency on November 4th but Aase was given his outright release on October 3rd.  Pete Stanicek went 0-4 in the game.  He suffered through two more injury plagued years in the Orioles minor league organization in 1989 and 1990 before retiring at age 27. 

The big name making his Orioles farewell was Eddie Murray.  Murray went 0-2 in the game before being lifted for a pinch hitter (Rick Schu) in the sixth inning.  He was traded just over two months later to the Dodgers for Juan Bell, Brian Holton and Ken Howell.  He would return to the Orioles for the 1996 season.

It's a small sample size but the Orioles had a bad month in October - going 0-2 while being outscored 16 to 6.

Today's loss clinched the worst record in all of baseball for the Orioles.  The Atlanta Braves ended the season with a 54-106 record for a .338 winning percentage, three percentage points better than the Orioles .335.  The Braves were arguably just as bad as the Orioles that year but didn't have a sexy 21 game losing streak to start the season - theirs was only 10 games. 

Monday, October 1, 2018

Saturday October 1 at the Blue Jays

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Outcome: L
Score: 3-7
Streak: L3
Record: 54-106
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

For a little bit this afternoon it looked the Orioles might put up a fight against Toronto.  The Blue Jays got on the board first in the bottom of the second on a sacrifice fly by Rob Ducey but the Orioles tied it in the top of the third on an RBI ground out by Craig Worthington.  Toronto went ahead for good in the fourth on a two run home run by Jesse Barfield and an RBI single by Kelly Gruber but the Birds cut the lead to just one run on a two run shot by Jim Traber in the fifth.  But Toronto responded in the bottom of the fifth with three more runs to bury the Orioles.  A Fred McGriff solo home run followed later in the inning with an RBI double by Ducey and an RBI single by Nelson Liriano accounted for the runs.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Friday September 30 at the Blue Jays

Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Outcome: L
Score: 0-4
Streak: L2
Record: 54-105
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

The Orioles suffered any number of indignities during the 1988 season but one thing they managed to avoid was getting no-hit.  Tonight was the closest all season they came to succumbing to that fate - Dave Stieb of the Blue Jays held them hitless until two outs in the ninth inning when pinch hitter Jim Traber lined a single.  It was the second straight start that Stieb had lost a no-hitter with two outs in the ninth (he had done it against Cleveland on September 24th) and his third consecutive complete game shutout.  Stieb would end up losing three no-hitters in the ninth inning in his career which is the record.  He did eventually throw a no-hitter in 1990 - it was the first and so far only no-hitter in Toronto Blue Jays history.

With the Orioles not hitting (and they only drew one walk) the game went very quickly, clocking in at one hour and 52 minutes, the second shortest game by time for the Birds all season (behind the September 3rd game against the Mariners).

Toronto got a run in the bottom of the first when Tony Fernandez led off with a triple and Kelly Gruder followed with a single.  Those two knocked in three more runs in the fifth inning when Fernandez singled with two on to knock in one run and Gruber tripled to knock in the other two.

From May through August the Orioles had pretty much just been mediocre.  They'd held steady from May through July and actually were almost a .500 team in August.  September though was a disaster.  With today's loss the Orioles had gone 8-19 this month, allowing 118 runs while only scoring 75.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Thursday September 29 vs the Yankees

Opponent: New York Yankees
Outcome: L
Score: 1-5
Streak: L1
Record: 54-104
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

This was the Orioles final home game of the season and the Orioles were running a somewhat unique promotion called "Shirts Off Out Back Night".  The O's would be changing their uniform design in the off-season and were giving away all the jerseys the players were wearing to the fans.  I was at the game but I don't remember the details of how it worked - if I had to actually register somewhere at the ballpark to be in the running or if they were doing everything by seat location - but it doesn't really matter as I didn't win a jersey.

There were 38,958 fans in attendance that evening which was the third highest home crowd of the season (behind Opening Day and Fantastic Fans Night).  The Orioles ended up drawing 1,660,738 which at the time was the eighth highest total in the club's history (and the fourth highest total for any team that had lost over 100 games).  I'll note that while this is a tribute to the fans of Baltimore who came out to support a bad team, it also reflects a trend upward in overall baseball attendance over the past 30 years.  The 1988 attendance is actually the Orioles lowest since the 1982 season.

The game was kind of an after thought and the Orioles played like it.  The Yankees went up 2-0 on a two run home run by Ken Phelps in the fourth and added a third run on an RBI single by Rafael Santana in the sixth.  Cal Ripken led off the bottom of the sixth with his 23rd home run of the season to get the Birds on the board but the Yankees got the run back in the top of the seventh on a bases loaded walk to Jack Clark.  New York got a final run in the ninth inning on a solo home from Don Mattingly.

The Orioles ended up leaving nine men on base and went 0 for six with runners in scoring position so they certainly had opportunities in this game.  Of course the Yankees squandered just as many opportunities to score more runs - they left 10 men on base and went one for eight with runners in scoring position.

Here are the clippings about the game from the next day's Evening Sun:





Friday, September 28, 2018

Wednesday September 28 vs the Yankees

Opponent: New York Yankees
Outcome: W
Score: 2-0
Streak: W1
Record: 54-103
Rank: 7th
GB: 33.5

The Orioles played very poorly over their final 20 games of the 1988 season, going 3-17 in games after September 12th.  (Note - they still have four more games after tonight so I'm giving away the fact that they didn't win any of them.)  The three games that they won were all starts by rookie Bob Milacki.  Oddly enough of the three starting pitchers that debuted with the Orioles in September of 1988 (Milacki, Curt Schilling and Pete Harnisch), Milacki had the most successful debut month but the least succssful career. 

At 23 Milacki was two years older than both Schilling and Harnisch which may have played into how their careers went.  Milacki was a mainstay of the Orioles rotation the next couple years, leading the AL in starts with 36 in 1989.  Injuries (possibly related to his workload) started taking their toll in the early 1990's.  In 1992 he went 6-8 with an ERA of 5.84 which led to him being called "Bob Shellac-i" among Orioles fans.  He left the Orioles as a free agent and spent the next few years bouncing around the A's, Indians, Royals, Red Sox, Mariners, Astros and Pirates organization along with a stint with the Osaka Kintetsu Buffaloes of Japan in 1997.  He finished his career with the St Paul Saints of the independent Northern League in 2000.

But all of that was in the future.  Tonight Milacki pitched a gem against the Yankees, holding them to three hits and two walks while striking out ten.  He had a complete game shutout, only the second one the Orioles got all season (the other was by Jeff Ballard against the Brewers back on August 13th). 

This was yet another game in which the Orioles had baserunners but couldn't get runners in.  They had 10 hits tonight along with two walks as well as getting two runners on via Yankees errors.  But they only scored two run - one on a double play in the second by Craig Worthington and the other on an RBI single by Rick Schu in the fourth.  They left 10 men on base tonight and went 1 for 8 with runners in scoring position.

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Tuesday September 27 vs the Yankees

Opponent: New York Yankees
Outcome: L
Score: 1-5
Streak: L4
Record: 53-103
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

Curt Schilling made the third major league start of his young career and was saddled with the second loss of his career.  Don Mattingly did a number on him in this game, hitting a two run home run in the first inning and a solo shot in the third to put New York up 3-0. 

But it was the fourth inning that really did Schilling in tonight.  With one out Wayne Tolleson singled and two batters later Randy Velarde walked.  With Rickey Henderson at bat the Yankees pulled a successful double steal, moving both runners into scoring position.  They both then scored when Henderson doubled, making it 5-0 Yankees.  Schilling got Claudell Washington to fly out to end the inning and his day.  Doug Sisk came in to pitch the next four innings and Gregg Olson pitched the ninth and neither of them gave up any more runs.

Not that it mattered though - the Orioles only managed to score one run this evening and that was almost by accident.  Mickey Tettleton singled to start the seventh inning and Ken Gerhart was hit by a pitch from Yankees starter Ron Guidry.  Carl Nichols popped out to Mattingly in foul territory down the right field line, deep enough for Tettleton to alertly advance to third.  This put him in position to score when Guidry's first pitch to the next batter Craig Worthington went wild.  Guidry struck out Worthington and got Rene Gonzales to ground out to end the inning without any further damage.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Monday September 26 vs the Yankees

Opponent: New York Yankees
Outcome: L
Score: 4-5
Streak: L3
Record: 53-102
Rank: 7th
GB: 34.5

Jeff Ballard started this evening for the Orioles but if you blinked you missed him.  He got leadoff hitter Rickey Henderson to fly out to start the game but then loaded the bases on a Don Mattingly single and walks to Dave Winfield and Jack Clark.  Gary Ward hit a single to bring in Mattingly and Winfield and Don Slaught followed with another single to score Clark.  Jay Tibbs came in to relieve Ballard and despite walking Rafael Santana to load the bases got out of the inning without giving up any more runs.  But the Yankees led 3-0.

The Orioles started a comeback in the second inning when Mickey Tettleton had a two run home run.  They tied the game in the fifth on a Ken Gerhart sacrifice fly and took the lead in the sixth inning on an RBI double by Rick Schu.

Meanwhile Jay Tibbs was actually pitching pretty well for the Orioles.  He entered the eighth inning having held the Yankees to only two hits and two walks while striking out six after entering the game with only one out in the first.  He got two quick outs in the eighth on a strikeout of Clark and a flyball from Ward but he then ran into trouble.  Slaught singled to put the tying run on and pinch hitter Ken Phelps followed with a double that put both the tying and go-ahead runs in scoring position.  Orioles manager Frank Robinson went to his bullpen and brought in Don Aase.  Santana greeted the new pitcher with a single that brought both runners in to score.  The Orioles bullpen had failed yet again and the Yankees were back on top 5-4 which is how the game ended.