DETROIT -- With the Orioles among the least productive teams in the major leagues, manager Johnny Oates made another adjustment in his lineup last night.
Mark McLemore, whose .303 average was the best among active regulars, moved from second to third in the batting order, with Harold Reynolds going from No. 8 to No. 2. Cal Ripken, who has hit in the third spot most of his career, dropped a notch to the fourth position against Detroit right-hander John Doherty.
"We've got to try something to get the offense going," said Oates. "I'm just trying to get the guys who are getting on base together [in the lineup].
"Our 2 and 3 hitters [Reynolds and McLemore] are the ones doing the most offensively the last few weeks," said Oates. "Now we've got to try and get them all together."
Unfortunately for Oates, bunching the hot hitters doesn't create a logjam in the lineup. The Orioles are hitting .246 as a team, the second lowest average in the American League, topping only the .236 mark of the Milwaukee Brewers. In the National League, the Mets (.231) were the only team with a lower average.
Of the 28 teams in the major leagues, only six had scored fewer than the 129 runs the Orioles had registered before last night -- Milwaukee (116) and Boston (121) in the American League and Los Angeles (123), St. Louis, Florida and San Diego (all with 128) in the National League.
Sparky loses an inning
It's safe to say that anybody who has ever played baseball has forgotten how many outs there were at some point in his career. But what about forgetting the inning?
Detroit manager Sparky Anderson admitted he made that mistake three nights ago, in the second game of the Tigers' series against the Toronto Blue Jays. A few eyebrows were raised when Detroit closer Mike Henneman was called into the game in the eighth inning for the second straight night.
It wasn't until later that anybody realized what happened. After walking two batters to load the bases with one out and a 10-8 lead, Henneman got a lecture from Anderson.
Henneman then retired the next two hitters and when he struck out Joe Carter, Anderson started from the dugout to congratulate his relief ace. He later admitted he thought the game was over, not going into the ninth inning.
"How long have I been managing, 29 years?" Anderson said to reporters after the game. "That's something I've never done before."
Fielder gets first rest
Cecil Fielder wasn't in the starting lineup last night for the first time this year. It was the first time since Sept. 10, 1990 that a healthy Fielder has not started a game for the Tigers.
"It's not something you want to do, but when you think about it, I can probably use it [the day off]," said Fielder. The slugging first baseman was the only Tiger to start the team's first 33 games.
Although they lead the American League's Eastern Division, the Tigers have hardly capitalized on their opportunities. They have blown six leads from the seventh inning on -- the most in the major leagues.
The expansion teams in Colorado and Florida and the New York Mets have lost five such games and the Yankees four. For all of their problems, the Orioles have come from behind after the sixth inning to win four times, while losing two such decisions.