Finding their pitching staff suddenly depleted, the Oakland A's announced last night that they have reached an agreement with free-agent righthander Andy Hawkins.
Hawkins was 0-2 with a 9.95 earned run average before being released last week by the Yankees. The A's have four pitchers on the disabled list, the most recent being Dave Stewart, who had made 166 straight starts for the A's before injuring a rib cage muscle against the Orioles a week ago.
The three-time defending American League champions have a team earned run average of 4.71, highest in the AL.
Hawkins is expected to join the A's in time for tonight's game, but probably won't be activated until after the series concludes tomorrow night.
* THE ROYAL VISIT: Tonight's game against Oakland has been dominating all activity at Memorial Stadium for the last two weeks. Queen Elizabeth II and the Duke of Edinburgh, along with President and Mrs. Bush will be in attendance.
The royal couple and the Bushes will greet members of both teams in a receiving line that will be formed in the Orioles' dugout. Those attending the game are expected to be able to view the greetings on the DiamondVision scoreboard starting at 7:15 p.m.
Approximately 26,000 tickets have been sold for tonight's game. Because of anticipated traffic congestion in conjunction with the visit, fans are advised to arrive early. The gates will open at 5:30, a half-hour earlier than normal.
* THE OTHER 'IRON MAN': Cal Ripken participated in an on-field ceremony in recognition of a consecutive game streak longer than his own last night. In the middle of the third inning Ripken presented field attendant Ernie Tyler with an Orioles' jersey with the number 2500 on the back.
That's how many consecutive games Tyler has worked since assuming duties as the keeper of the baseballs on April 19, 1960. On the night that Tyler reached his milestone, Ripken was playing in his 1,440th straight game.
Tyler is part of a family tradition with the Orioles. Sons Jimmy and Fred are the home and visiting team clubhouse managers and six other members of the family have worked at one time or another at Memorial Stadium.
* HAROLD HALTED: When Harold Baines grounded out in the seventh inning last night it broke a streak of seven straight hits against the Orioles. Included were three home runs, two doubles and eight runs batted in (seven in one game a week ago yesterday in Oakland).
Three hits last night raised Baines' overall average to .309 -- .875 against the Orioles and .255 against the rest of the league.
* SOLITARY MEN: By hitting four home runs last night the Orioles tied Detroit for the American League lead in that department with 34. It was the second four-homer game of the year for the Orioles, who also did it May 6 at California.
Cal Ripken's ninth home run tied him with the Tigers' Rob Deer. Mike Devereaux hit his sixth to join the league leaders, Joe Orsulak hit his second and Chris Hoiles his first.
All four of the Orioles' home runs, and 22 of their last 23, came with nobody on base. For the season the Orioles already have hit 25 solo homers.
* RIP'S RAMPAGE: Ripken had reached base via a hit or walk in 12 of 13 plate appearances before flying out in the eighth inning last night. With two hits Ripken improved his average to .358, third in the American League, and his highest ever after May 1.
The All-Star shortstop also took over American League leadership with 27 runs batted in. In case you're wondering, Ripken has had similar starts in the power department -- nine home runs, 30 RBIs after 26 games in 1987 and nine home runs, 20 RBIs after 28 games in 1984.
* THIS 'N THAT: Devereaux drew his 13th walk last night, which is more significant that it sounds. Last year he had only 28 for the entire season. His six home runs have been hit in the last 16 games and in his last 91 games, dating back to June 26 of last year, he has hit 17 homers.
Mark Williamson faced four Oakland hitters and retired them all in relief of Jeff Robinson last night. The last time he faced the A's, one week ago, he also faced four hitters -- and gave up the cycle, a single, double, triple and home run.