Melvin Mora was once a part-time player just looking for a chance to shine. Now, he’s one of the brightest stars in the American League.
One of the top hitters in baseball, Mora was once a utility player with the New York Mets. The 32-year-old third baseman hit a combined .248 in 145 games for the Mets during 1999 and the first part of 2000 before he was dealt to the Orioles for Mike Bordick.
Since arriving in Baltimore, Mora has overcome injuries to develop into one of the best hitters around. He batted just .233 in 2002, but had a career-high 19 home runs and 64 RBIs. Then last year, Mora hit a career-high .317 in 96 games before missing all of August with a bruised wrist and the final two weeks of the season with a partially torn ligament in his left knee.
So far this season, Mora is healthy and carrying the Orioles. He is second in the AL in hitting with a .367 average and leads the league with 54 runs, to go along with a team-high 11 home runs.
However, the Orioles have been unable to capitalize on Mora’s fast start as they sit two games below .500 and well back of the first-place New York Yankees in the AL East.
The Orioles evened this series with Wednesday’s 8-2 win. Miguel Tejada homered for the first time in nine games and Mora scored four runs for Baltimore, which has dropped 12 of 18.
Despite the loss, the Diamondbacks have won five of eight following a stretch in which they lost seven of eight.
Luis Gonzalez is riding a nine-game hitting streak, during which he is batting .559 (19-for-34) with eight multihit games and seven RBIs.
STANDINGS (through June 8): Diamondbacks - 4th place, 8 1/2 GB, NL West. Orioles - 3rd place, 9 1/2 GB, AL East.
DIAMONDBACKS PROBABLE STARTER: Casey Fossum (0-4, 7.33 ERA). Fossum has produced a 7.85 ERA in losing his last four starts, and is allowing the opposition to hit .336. He allowed five runs and eight hits over a season low-tying four innings in a 7-3 loss to Los Angeles on Friday. The 26-year-old left-hander is 2-2 with a 4.15 ERA in eight career appearances, including four starts, against the Orioles.
ORIOLES PROBABLE STARTER: Daniel Cabrera (3-1, 3.90 ERA). The rookie right-hander won three of his first four starts before not receiving a decision in a 5-2 loss to the Yankees last Thursday. Cabrera allowed two runs and six hits over six innings before the Baltimore bullpen gave the game away. Cabrera has never faced the Diamondbacks.
OFFENSIVE LEADERS: Diamondbacks - Danny Bautista, .319 avg.; Steve Finley, 16 HRs and 7 SBs.; Gonzalez, 36 RBIs and 44 runs. Orioles - Mora, .367 avg., 11 HRs and 54 runs; Tejada, 47 RBIs; Brian Roberts, 20 SBs.
INTERLEAGUE RECORDS: Diamondbacks, 1-1; Orioles, 1-1.
STREAKS AND NOTES: Diamondbacks - C Brent Mayne was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday retroactive to June 6 with a back strain. Arizona purchased the contract of C Juan Brito from Triple-A Tucson to replace Mayne on the roster. … RHP Matt Mantei’s rehabilitation from shoulder tendinitis has hit a snag due to a sore calf muscle and a bout with the flu. … The Diamondbacks have gone a season-high five straight games without a home run. Orioles - RHP Kurt Ainsworth will miss the next two months after having arthroscopic elbow surgery on Wednesday. Ainsworth was 0-1 with a 9.68 ERA in seven starts for the Orioles before being optioned to Triple-A Ottawa. … RF Jay Gibbons is scheduled to come off the disabled list on Thursday, but probably won’t, according to manager Lee Mazzilli. Gibbons, who has missed the past two weeks with a bulging disc in his lower back, took batting practice Wednesday and could be back by the weekend. … 1B Rafael Palmeiro is 0-for-6 in his career against Fossum.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Diamondbacks - 11-19 on the road; Orioles - 14-15 at home.
INJURIES: Diamondbacks - C Mayne (back), 15-day DL; INF Greg Colbrunn (wrist), 15-day DL; INF Matt Kata (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Richie Sexson (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Mantei (shoulder), 15-day DL; RHP Oscar Villarreal (forearm), 15-day DL; RHP Brandon Lyon (elbow), 60-day DL; RHP Shane Reynolds (shoulder), 60-day DL; INF Roberto Alomar (hand), 60-day DL. Orioles - RHP Ainsworth (elbow), 15-day DL; 1B David Segui (knee), 15-day DL; OF Marty Cordova (elbow), 15-day DL; OF Gibbons (back), 15-day DL; LHP Omar Daal (shoulder), 60-day DL.