For Red Wings, Oriole opportunity comes calling

May 03, 1991|By Michael Wentzel | Michael Wentzel,Special to The Evening Sun

ROCHESTER, N.Y. -- Rochester Red Wings outfielder Chito Martinez warmed his bat, and the pine-tar rag, by the heater in the dugout. The Orioles might call it an exhibition game, but Martinez and the Red Wings wanted every advantage and wanted to win.

"If you play well, the one good thing about it is that they know you are here," Martinez said, grimacing at the 40-degree temperatures.

He took advantage in last night's game, getting three hits, including a triple, in the Red Wings' 4-3 win over the Orioles before a crowd of 4,385 at Silver Stadium. The Wings outhit the Orioles, 11-7.

"We played solid defense; we hit the ball well," said Wings shortstop Jeff McKnight, who hit a home run to deep right-center in the second inning off Jeff Bumgarner, the Hagerstown pitcher who started for the Orioles. "It's always good to play well, wherever you play," McKnight said.

Seven Orioles struck out against Eric Shullstrom, the Orioles' second pick in the June 1990 draft who is rehabilitating a hand injury, and three relief pitchers.

"I'm real happy with Eric's five innings," said Don Buford, the Orioles' director of field operations and instruction. "He has three good pitches and his fastball is in the high 80s. This is a good game for the young guys. It gives them an idea of what they can do and how hard they still have to work. This game can be beneficial. Really."

The Orioles replaced several players early in the game. Cal Ripken left after singling in the bottom of the third. Juan Bell, who was greeted with a chorus of boos from a Rochester crowd that often heckled him last year, finished the game at short. Tim Hulett replaced Bill Ripken, who only batted once, in the third.

Bob Melvin took over first base from Randy Milligan in the bottom of the third inning. Milligan had one error and Melvin two. Melvin's errors led to the game-winning runs.

Chris Hoiles started off the second inning with a home run to rightfield. McKnight answered in the bottom of the second with his home run. Martinez followed McKnight with a triple and scored on a grounder by third baseman Tommy Shields, who was safe on Milligan's error.

Brady Anderson scored in the seventh inning after hitting a triple, bringing the Orioles within one run.

The Red Wings scored two runs in the sixth inning on hard-hit singles by McKnight, Martinez and Luis Mercedes, and Melvin's two errors.

Buford collected the Red Wings' hits like evidence in a case.

"McKnight gives his best at any position he plays and he's on a real hitting streak right now," Buford said. "Chito can hit the ball to every part of the park. The consistency has to come from him. He has real major-league potential if he gets his strikeouts down."

Two hard-hit singles by outfielder Mercedes seemed to please Buford the most. Mercedes, who hit .334 at Hagerstown last year, struggled early this season and is batting only .226. But he has 10 hits in his 31 at-bat.

"He can really hit the ball ," Buford said. "He will hit .290 before this season is over. He's fast and he's strong. He's the kind of player that can start a team."

Frederick pitcher David Riddle took the loss for the Orioles. The Orioles packed quickly for the charter flight to Anaheim, Calif., to begin their nine-game West Coast trip.

The Red Wings' victory broke a three-game Orioles' winning streak in Rochester. The Red Wings lead the series 13-11-1 . . . The Orioles won the pre-game home-run hitting contest 10-9 when Ernie Whitt hit his second home run on the last of 10 swings. Each team had five players in the contest. Mike Devereaux, Joe Orsulak, Hoiles, Ripken and Whitt each hit two. Martinez and Benny Distefano each hit three for the Red Wings. David Segui had two and McKnight one. Tony Chance was the only contestant who failed to homer.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.