Swept O's look to salvage trip in Detroit


DETROIT -- The Orioles need to keep everything in perspective, right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds was saying after Cleveland completed a three-game sweep of the team on Wednesday night.

"We've got three games left on this road trip," Hammonds said. "We could win those three games [in Detroit] and finish with a 3-3 road trip."

He's right. A 3-3 road trip isn't terrible. But . . .

"But if we do the same things wrong in these three games in Detroit," he said, "then you ask the questions."

Questions like: Will the Orioles figure out a way to hit with runners in scoring position, something they haven't done this week. From the time that Cal Ripken singled in the seventh inning of last Sunday's loss to California to the sixth inning of Wednesday's loss to Cleveland -- a mere span of 25 innings -- the Orioles went 0-for-31 with runners in scoring position.

Orioles manager Phil Regan shifted his lineup for Wednesday's game, moving speedster Curtis Goodwin to leadoff, Ripken to No. 3 and Rafael Palmeiro to cleanup, and dropped slumping catcher Chris Hoiles to eighth in the order.

The initial results were discouraging. Goodwin, who had hits in 11 of his first 12 games in the majors, including 10 multi-hit games, went 0-for-4, often swinging at the first pitch. Hoiles continued to look so bad that Regan pinch-hit for him for the second time in three days.

The Orioles talked earlier in the week about acquiring a No. 4 starter, but some within the organization are saying that could be a waste.

"What difference would one pitcher make," a club source said rhetorically, "when you're getting shut out?"

Orioles executives have talked about adding a hitter, but there are no easy solutions there, because the lineup is so laden with veterans who can't be moved. Hoiles has a five-year contract, so it's almost impractical -- if not impossible -- to do anything other than wait for Hoiles to hit. Adding a slugging outfielder would be tough, unless the Orioles are to deal Goodwin, Hammonds or Brady Anderson.

Third base was a problem before the year started, but Jeff Manto has been one of the Orioles' most productive players. If they wanted to upgrade at second base, they would have few choices -- Houston's Craig Biggio is one of the few strong offensive second basemen -- and they would have to pay a heavy price to do so.

"I don't know what we can do," said Palmeiro. "Just keep battling, man. That's about all."

Olson? No thanks

The Indians are trying to figure out what to do with former Orioles reliever Gregg Olson, who's pitching well for Triple-A Buffalo. Cleveland is happy with Jose Mesa as its closer and is concerned that calling up Olson may upset team chemistry.

The Orioles have been approached about acquiring Olson but have indicated they have no interest, according to team officials.

Around the horn

Orioles general manager Roland Hemond is weighing several offers for left-handed reliever Brad Pennington, who must be traded or waived by Sunday. . . . The Orioles will activate outfielder Andy Van Slyke for today's game, Regan said. Catcher Cesar Devarez or pitcher Scott Klingenbeck likely will be returned to Triple-A Rochester. . . . The Orioles last night met for a second time with the family of Alvie Shepherd to discuss the No. 1 pick's signing bonus.


Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 7:05

TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Ben McDonald (2-3, 4.07) vs. Tigers' Felipe Lira (2-3, 3.32)

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