Horn's first hit of season is a big one Orioles notes xTC

April 15, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Baseball had not been very good to Sam Horn through the first week of the new season. He had been to the plate seven times and had yet to put the ball in play.

But the first pitch he saw from Texas Rangers ace Nolan Ryan disappeared into the right-field bleachers and gave the Baltimore Orioles a three-run, first-inning lead.

"I haven't been making contact, but I've been getting good swings," Horn said. "I figured the best thing to do was make sure I got as many swings as I could. I said if I saw a pitch I could hack at, I'm hacking."

Horn also hit the ball hard with two runners on in the third inning, but second baseman Julio Franco made a play to stab a one-hopper in the hole and turn an inning-ending double play.

He has one hit in 10 at-bats and has struck out seven times, but his three RBI tie him for second on the club.

McDonald sent to Florida

Right-hander Ben McDonald pitched on the side again and reported no problems, so he has been sent to Sarasota, Fla., to pitch under game conditions.

McDonald will return to his home in Denham Springs, La., for one day before reporting to Twin Lakes Park. He is scheduled to pitch Wednesday in anticipation of a return to the Orioles rotation next Monday against the Chicago White Sox at the new Comiskey Park.

Saturday night in review

The Orioles broke out of a three-game hitting slump with a 12-hit performance in an 11-4 victory over the Rangers on Saturday night.

Shortstop Cal Ripken narrowly missed hitting for the cycle but set a career high with seven RBI as the Orioles evened their record at 2-2 and raised their combined batting average from .138 to .192.

Ripken hit two home runs to assure left-hander Jeff Ballard of his first victory as a starter since last May 27. But it was third baseman Craig Worthington who delivered the Orioles' first home run of 1991, a two-run shot off Rangers reliever John Barfield in the fifth inning.

Ballard worked six innings and gave up four runs on seven hits. He got help from J.J. Bautista and left-hander Mike Flanagan, who stretched a modest scoreless innings string to five with two innings of two-hit relief.

Tough debut for Whitt

Catcher Ernie Whitt made his Orioles debut yesterday, but it wasn't pretty. He struck out all four times he went to the plate, including three times against Ryan.

Utility man Juan Bell also made his 1991 debut and went hitless in three at-bats, but he made contact each time.

Bad day for Bautista

Bautista was hammered by the Rangers in his third relief outing of the year. He gave up four runs in the sixth inning and four more in the seventh, but remained in the game to preserve the rest of the Baltimore bullpen. He settled down to retire the side in order in the eighth to drop his ERA to 20.25.

Downing's big weekend

The Rangers activated 40-year-old designated hitter Brian Downing on Saturday and put him at the top of the lineup for each of the last two games of the series. They were not sorry.

Downing was on base eight times in his first 10 plate appearances, with four hits, a home run, three RBI, two walks and two hit-by-pitches.

Miscellaneous

Ripken came out of the game for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning, the 120th time he has played less than a full game during his 1,416-game playing streak. . . . Paul Kilgus pitched a solid three innings of relief, but gave up a two-run home run to Downing in the fourth inning. . . . Goose Gossage pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the series.

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