CLEVELAND -- Bad luck is one of the factors often cited by the Orioles for their disappointing season. In reference to their travel this year, this is undeniable.
Their charter from Cleveland to Baltimore last evening was expected to be delayed by at least a couple of hours, after their plane was involved in a minor accident at the airport.
According to player representative Mike Mussina -- "OK, I got the real story," he said, smiling -- the plane was being moved into place during the afternoon, and banged against the terminal, breaking a piece of the back wing.
The players were told they would have to wait at least two hours for the plane to be fixed. "Well, at least we get to watch football," one player said drearily.
The Orioles had travel problems on their last trip to Cleveland, and a flat tire delayed a flight from Seattle to Anaheim, Calif., about five hours.
Erickson: 2 solid starts in row
Scott Erickson had a solid effort against the Indians yesterday, allowing three runs and 10 hits over seven-plus innings. He pitched well in his previous outing, shutting out the Angels in Cal Ripken's record-tying game.
"I've kind of had a stretch where it's been good-bad, good-bad," he said. "It's nice to get two decent starts in a row."
Erickson has six wins in his two months with the Orioles. But he'll be one of many players who may not return, depending on what the next labor agreement entails for free-agent qualifications, and whether the Orioles will try to retain him. He says he's not thinking about that, though.
"Nobody knows what's up with the strike," Erickson said. "Nobody knows what's going to happen. It's out of my control. Who's to say if they even want me back?"
Haynes to get his shot
The Orioles called up pitcher Jimmy Haynes and catcher Cesar Devarez yesterday. Haynes will join the rotation before the end of the season.
"I'm going to give him a chance to start," said Orioles manager Phil Regan, "and see what he looks like. I want to see how he's doing. I think this is a good time to look at him, when he's at the top of his game.
Around the horn
Frank Robinson, the Orioles' assistant general manager and a potential candidate for the job of general manager if Roland Hemond is dismissed or kicked upstairs, would not comment on the club's request to interview Indians assistant GM Dan O'Dowd. . . . Ripken's sacrifice bunt in the second inning yesterday was his first since July 22, 1990, against Chicago, and his second since 1982. With Bobby Bonilla on second and nobody out, Ripken appeared to be bunting for a hit, but was credited with a sacrifice when Jim Thome threw him out at first. . . . With the victory, the Indians extended their home winning streak to 14 games, which equals the most for any team in the majors this season. . . . The last time the Indians swept the Orioles at home was in 1954, when Cleveland went 11-0 against Baltimore. That also happens to be the last year the Indians won a title of any kind, before they clinched the AL Central championship Friday night. . . . Orioles strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop will hold a 5K/1K Walk/Fun Run at Camden Yards on Sept. 16, to benefit Baltimore City Special Olympics. For more information, call Dave Cooley at 377-8882.
HITS AND MISSES
On the field: Orioles third baseman Jeff Huson cut off a potential Cleveland rally in the sixth inning with a little savvy. With Jim Thome on second and two out, Cleveland's Herbert Perry chopped a single behind third base. Huson gloved the ball and wound up to throw to first, as Thome rounded third. Huson pumped, faking a throw, and Thome took a couple of extra steps past the bag. Huson raced over and tagged out Thome as the runner dived back into the base.
In the dugout: During the series, Cleveland manager Mike Hargrove made sure that left-handers pitched to Orioles left fielder Brady Anderson and first baseman Rafael Palmeiro in the late innings, and the strategy paid off. Anderson and Palmeiro were 0-for-8 after the fifth inning in the three games.
In the clubhouse: "I think they've pitched well," Orioles manager Phil Regan said of the Indians, 6-0 against the Orioles at Jacobs HTC Field this year. "Their starters have done a good job, they've got a good bullpen -- their guys have come in and done a great job and shut us down. We aren't swinging the bats very well, either."
The Indians have baseball's best lineup, but it was their pitching that gave them a 6-0 record against the Orioles at Jacobs Field this year.
Orioles' batting average ... ... .181
Extra-base hits ... ... ... ... .. 12
Runs ... ... ... ... ... ... ..... 11
Runs per game ... .... .... ..... 1.8