CLEVELAND -- When it comes to "Turn Back The Clock" promotions, the Orioles are in a league of their own.
Two years ago, during the final season at Memorial Stadium, the Orioles tried to re-create the magic of 1966, their first championship season. The experience turned into a nightmare as the Minnesota Twins scored five times in the ninth inning for an 8-4 win.
The Indians, playing their last year at Cleveland Stadium, used the same promotion yesterday -- and when they turned the clock back to 1954, the Orioles should have known they were in trouble.
That was Baltimore's maiden year in modern major-league baseball. It was also the year the Indians set an American League record by winning 111 games. In those days Bob Feller, Bob Lemon, Early Wynn and Mike Garcia were the pitchers serving up zeros as the Indians won 19 of 22 games against the Orioles.
Yesterday, only the names were changed as Mark Clark, Jeremy Hernandez and Eric Plunk gave their best impression of the Cleveland aces of another era. The three right-handers combined to pitch an eight-hit shutout as the Indians stymied the Orioles, 3-0.
Clark (2-2) wasn't originally scheduled to start, but worked six strong innings as a late replacement for Dundalk native Mike Bielecki, who was given his unconditional release Friday night. The victim of the Orioles' off-again offense was Fernando Valenzuela (2-7), who allowed six hits and all three runs in seven-plus innings.
A two-run single by Carlos Baerga in the third inning accounted for all of the runs while Valenzuela was in the game. Thomas Howard's eighth-inning sacrifice fly off reliever Alan Mills delivered the Indians' final run.
For the Orioles, it came down to two plays -- a botched sacrifice bunt attempt by Jeff Tackett in the third inning and an unsuccessful steal attempt by Brady Anderson in the sixth.
After David Segui and Harold Reynolds hit back-to-back singles off Clark to start the third, Tackett was given the sign to move the runners up with a bunt.
"With our 1-2-3 hitters coming up, it was a chance for us to get on the scoreboard first," said manager Johnny Oates.
Tackett has been successful in such situations in the past, but this time he missed three pitches -- and the situation was compounded when Segui wandered too far off second base on the final attempt and ran into a double play.
"The third time, I did it [attempted to bunt] on my own," said Tackett. "I wanted to get it down -- I should have gotten the first pitch down, that was the big one."
And the play turned out to be the biggest of the game for the Orioles, who had only one other scoring threat.
"We helped them [the Indians] out a little bit," said Oates.
"Jeff felt he could get them over, but it puts the runners in a tough position because they don't know you're bunting. It's one of those things where, if you're going to do it, you've got to be sure you can get it done."
Segui, however, took responsibility for his part of the play. "I didn't know he [Jeff] was bunting on his own," said the first baseman. "I just got myself too far off the base. I was in no-man's land."
After the double play, Anderson flied out to deep center for the third out.
It wasn't until the sixth that the Orioles mounted another threat against Clark. With one out, Anderson, McLemore and Cal Ripken had successive singles, the last two of the infield variety.
However, Anderson was thrown out trying to steal just before McLemore's hit and a long fly to right by Mike Devereaux was nothing more than the third out.
"That's how we do a lot of our scoring, stealing a base to get within one run," said Oates, who had no qualms about Anderson's attempt. "I think the odds of Brady stealing that base were a lot better than Jeff trying to get down a two-strike bunt when you've got a possible force play at two bases and a below-average runner on second."
It was that kind of game for the Orioles -- another visit to the past and another loss.