Injuries and Orioles call-ups are undermining Rochester, which went into last night four games behind the Ottawa Lynx in the East, the biggest deficit of the season.
The Red Wings lost 16 of 24 games through Monday and hadn't won two straight since June 22. Moreover, they were facing a three-game home series against the powerful Norfolk Tides, then an 11-game trip.
Thursday was symbolic of the slide. In their first game after the Triple-A All-Star break, they led the Syracuse Chiefs 2-0 after eight innings behind masterful pitching by Jimmy Haynes before rain halted the game for 78 minutes.
After the stoppage and one out, Jimmy Myers walked three batters, then John Shea threw a wild pitch and gave up a three-run homer to Howard Battle. Final: 4-2, Syracuse.
"It was our worst loss of the year," said second baseman Brad Tyler. "The feeling in the locker room was disbelief."
Two Red Wings probably are lost for the season, and a starting rotation without one of them, Brian Sackinsky, will suffer.
Sackinsky went to his hometown of Pittsburgh to see a specialist after a problem with bone spurs in his right elbow resurfaced during his latest start. He was out nearly a month with the same difficulty.
First baseman-outfielder Tyrone Woods, who has slumped since hitting .411 in April, caught his toe on first base Saturday and fell on his right shoulder, dislocating it. Woods has a .260 batting average and has struck out 68 times in 69 games.
The Orioles' two Rookie-level teams are off to torrid starts.
Through Monday, the Bluefield Orioles and the Gulf Coast Orioles were a combined 34-15 and both had team ERAs under 3.00.
"It's unusual for these young players to come out of the gate like that," said Syd Thrift, director of player development. "And especially since the top draft picks haven't signed yet. This is a tribute to the scouting department and the work of Andy Etchebarren and his staff [Bluefield] and Julio Garcia and his staff [Gulf Coast]."
Thrift is considering the promotion of some first-year players to help the Frederick Keys, who still are struggling in the Single-A Carolina League.
Among the standouts at Bluefield are outfielder Johnny Isom (.353), first baseman Tom Russin (.338), catcher Michael Gargiulo (.300) and third baseman Chris Bryant (.293).
At Gulf Coast, the top producers have been shortstop Craig Daedelow (.312), outfielder Carlos Akins (.302) and outfielder Roberto Rivera (.289).
Foley gets Perth berth
Rochester manager Marv Foley has signed to manage the Perth Heat in the Australian Winter League, the only postseason assignment yet made in the Orioles' system.
"We used to send a couple of instructors over there, but I like the idea of a manager leading and instructing our players," Thrift said. "We might also send a couple of coaches."
Keys to feature Boog bashes
Saturday's Old-Timers Classic at Frederick will feature Boog Powell.
The game will begin at 6:15 p.m. before the Keys play the Winston-Salem Warthogs.
The special attraction will be Powell's home run contest against former Orioles reliever Dick Hall, a master of control.
Around the horn
Rochester has not hit a grand slam since the 1993 Governor's Cup series, a span of 236 games. . . . Outfielder Mark Smith hit 12 homers in 22 at bats during the first round of the home run contest at the Triple-A All-Star Game, then lost in the final. He had a triple in the game. . . . Pitcher Alan Mills (shoulder) continues his recuperation in Florida after one start for the Red Wings. . . . Outfielder Damon Buford said "he'd love to go" to the Minnesota Twins as the player to be named in the Scott Erickson trade. . . .
The Bowie Baysox pulled the franchise's first triple play Saturday at Trenton. Catcher B. J. Waszgis started it by catching a bunt pop-up. . . . With shortstop Matt Howard (fractured finger) out for the season, Juan Bautista was promoted from the Single-A High Desert Mavericks. . . . First baseman Jason Friedman was returned to Bowie after hitting .308 in 13 at-bats for Rochester. . . . With Joe Borowski promoted, Jim Newlin and Kevin Ryan are sharing the closer's role. . . . No one has started more than three straight games at second base this season. . . .
Frederick received pitcher Jeff Mansur from Gulf Coast, where he had been rehabilitating. . . . Thrift said he reassigned outfielder Danny Clyburn to High Desert "because he needs a change of scenery." Clyburn responded with three homers in his first four games. The Keys received Roy Hodge, who starred for them last year. . . . Outfielder Trovin Valdez went 42 games without an RBI. . . . The Keys already have three doubleheaders next month due to rainouts. . . .
At High Desert, Ryan Griffin is being converted into a closer after making 17 starts. He had two saves within a week. . . .
Orioles coach Elrod Hendricks' son, Ryan, leads the Rookie-level Appalachian League with six homers for Huntington, a co-op team that includes two other Orioles minor-leaguers.