Ups and downs

Chris Hoiles--DOWN -- Struggling so badly that he's being pulled for oinch hitters

Mike Mussina -- DOWN -- Home runs allowed have become a regular part of his pitching line.

Brady Anderson -- DOWN -- Orioles manager Phil Regan wouldn't say it, but part of the reason for Anderson being dropped to No. 2 had to be his prolonged slump.

Curtis Goodwin -- WHO KNOW'S -- Keeps on hitting. But he's having trouble defensively on any ball directly behind or in front of him.

Trade talks -- DOWN -- Hard to really get into some serious discussion when you can't offer much besides cash.

Rafael Palmeiro -- UP -- Not even in the top eight in AL All-Star balloting. Behind Will Clark? Please.

Second-guessing -- UP -- Admit it. You wanted O's to sign Ron Grant, protect Vaughn Eshelman, and pass on El Sid.


"I can only speak for myself - embarrassing. . . . I can't gauge how far away we are [from the Indians], but one thing for sure, we are not close."

Right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, after the O's were bombed by the Indians, 11-0, on Tuesday night.

Stat of the week

From the seventh inning of Sunday's game against California to the sixth inning of Wednesday's loss in Cleveland, the Orioles had 31 consecutive hitless at-bats with runners in scoring position.

The week ahead

Vs. New York, Monday-Wednesday: A big series, because they could put the hurt on a team that has the talent to pick itself up at any time (remember the 1978 Yankees?). When the Orioles went to New York in May, they won one out of three, with Brady Anderson hitting a clutch three-run homer in the ninth inning, but many players were kicking themselves for not taking at least two games in that series.

Vs. Boston, Thursday-Sunday: Kevin Brown and Mike Mussina will pitch against the Red Sox in a series that is, to date, the most important of the year. Manager Phil Regan said he'd like to pull to within four or five games by the All-Star break, and the Orioles could make major strides in that direction by winning three or sweeping four in this series.

The good

Jeff Manto became the 24th player in major-league history to hit homers in four straight at-bats, and hit five homers over three days. A representative from the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, N.Y., called Manto Wednesday and asked for the bat he used.

The bad

The batting average of catcher Chris Hoiles slipped to .191 on Monday, and then when he went back in the lineup Wednesday, he failed to block a pitch in the dirt and cost the Orioles an early-inning run.

The Ugly

Alan Mills, who isn't doing much with his pitches other than throwing hard, continues to get hammered. He gave up four earned runs, on three hits and a walk, in one-third of an inning Tuesday night.

A move that paid off...

Orioles manager Phil Regan brought in left-hander Mark Lee to pitch to Cleveland designated hitter Eddie Murray with two outs and the bases loaded in the fifth inning Wednesday. Murray, hitting from the right side instead of his stronger left side, struck out.

...and one that didn't

Lee stayed in the game and walked Jim Thome to open the sixth inning, and Cleveland went on to add two runs to its one-run lead.

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