Down 6-1 in the fourth, the Birds rallied for five runs to tie. Mercker and Jimmy Myers coughed up three more tallies in the fifth and the teams traded scores in the seventh. The O's took the field in the bottom of the eighth down 10-7...and the wheels came off.
Like many other disasters in late '90s Oriole lore, this one began with Mr. Armando Benitez. Single, steal, walk, wild pitch, walk. Bases loaded. Out goes Armando, in comes the venerable (really really old) Jesse Orosco for what must have been the worst performance of his life. Double, sacrifice fly, home run, three straight singles, walk, single, walk. Jesse allowed all three of Benitez's runners to score, along with five of his own. He, too, left with the bases loaded, handing an 18-7 deficit to the last man in the Baltimore bullpen: Manny Alexander. To convey the full wonder of the scrawny infielder's hurling prowess, I defer to the play-by-play:
J Gonzalez Walk; Hamilton Scores; Valle to 3B; Buford to 2BThe totals for the half-inning: 16 runs on 8 hits and 8 walks. 97 pitches thrown by two pitchers and one middle infielder to 19 batters. You might notice a few familiar names in the excerpt above. As if Rangers manager (and former O's skipper) Johnny Oates was rubbing it in, the outburst featured four ex-O's: Mickey Tettleton, Mark McLemore, Damon Buford, and Craig Worthington. Craig Worthington! Manny Alexander's final career earned run average stands at 67.50.
Craig Worthington pinch runs for Juan Gonzalez batting 4th
M Tettleton Walk; Valle Scores; Buford to 3B; Worthington to 2B
D Palmer Walk; Buford Scores; Worthington to 3B; Tettleton to 2B
Kurt Stillwell pinch runs for Dean Palmer batting 6th
R Greer Flyball: CF/Sacrifice Fly; Worthington Scores; Tettleton to 3B
M McLemore Walk; Stillwell to 2B
K Elster Home Run (Fly Ball to Deep LF); Tettleton Scores; Stillwell Scores; McLemore Scores
D Hamilton Groundout: 2B-1B
But hey, at least he got two batters out.