Minnesota's Tom Kelly broke one of the unwritten primary rules in the unwritten manager's textbook as the Twins' 15-game winning streak came to an end last night at the hands of the Orioles, 6-5.
Not only that, but Kelly didn't hesitate to intentionally put the winning run on base, said he would do it again -- and nobody would blame him.
With two outs in the ninth inning, the tying run at second base and first base open, Kelly had relief ace Rick Aguilera walk Cal Ripken to pitch to Randy Milligan. "Cal's hitting .361 and I'm hitting .251," said Milligan. "What would you do if you were the manager?"
Milligan's game-winning two-run double did not cause Kelly to second-guess himself. "How about when I pitched to him [with reliever Steve Bedrosian] with the infield in? That was kind of crazy," said Kelly.
He had taken that risk in the seventh inning with the Twins leading 4-3. In that situation, Ripken's short fly to rightfield turned into a double play when Pedro Munoz' rocket throw caught Mike Devereaux at home plate.
"We took a chance fooling with Cal then," said Kelly, who wanted no parts of trying again with only one out remaining in the game. "That [walking Ripken] was the right thing to do, I believe. If I had it to do over again, I'd do it. I don't think you want to let Cal beat you."
Kelly also noted a valid point that was almost overlooked because of the attention generated by the end of the Twins' 15-game winning streak.
"It was a helluva finish to a very, very exciting game," Kelly said of what might have been the best game at Memorial Stadium this year. "It [the streak] was a real exciting time for us. I told the players I hoped they enjoyed it as much as I did."
* OVERLOOKED TABLE-SETTERS: Milligan was the center of attention in the Orioles' clubhouse last night, but the first baseman was quick to credit those who set up his game-winning hit. David Segui and Brady Anderson ignited the ninth-inning rally with solid singles to centerfield. Then Devereaux, whose ninth home run accounted for the Orioles' first run, laid down a perfect sacrifice bunt.
"Getting the first two guys on base put a little pressure on them," said Milligan. "Then Devo made a good bunt and Joe Orsulak [who hit a run-scoring sacrifice fly pinch-hitting for Bill Ripken] did his job."
* BIG BEN COUNTDOWN: Ben McDonald threw four innings (50 pitches) under simulated game conditions yesterday and appears to be moving steadily toward a return to the active list. The big righthander will throw for five minutes in the bullpen tomorrow.
During the Orioles' upcoming trip to Kansas City and Cleveland, McDonald will either pitch again under simulated conditions or on a rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues. McDonald could move into the rotation as early as the Orioles' next homestand (June 28-July 3), but it's possible his return could be delayed until after the All-Star break (July 8-10).
* FIRST THINGS FIRST: The Orioles, who have had trouble
against everybody else, are on a roll against first-place teams. They have gone 7-4 against Boston and Toronto, knocking the Blue Jays off the top rung last weekend.
Minnesota's 15-game win streak moved it into first place in the AL West, where it stayed last night, thanks to Milwaukee's 5-0 win over Oakland.
* THIS 'N THAT: Cal Ripken (.361) hit his 14th home run and had his sixth straight multi-hit game last night, the longest such streak by an Oriole since Eddie Murray did it Sept. 10-16, 1980. Rich Dauer had 10 straight multi-hit games in 1978.
Mark Williamson (1-2) was the winning pitcher last night, surviving a difficult ninth while pitching 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Bob Milacki became only the second Orioles starter in the last seven games to last five innings, but he struggled in the process, giving up nine hits in 5 1/3 innings.
The three-game win streak matches the Orioles' longest of the year. They broke a five-game losing streak at home with last night's win. The 12 hits marked the third straight time the Orioles have been in double figures.
Leo Gomez walked twice, but had his 10-game hitting streak stopped last night. . . The Orioles are out of last place in the AL East for the first time since May 11. . . Bobby Grich will be in town tonight, commemorating his three-home run game at Memorial Stadium June 18, 1974. Grich performed the feat in a 10-1 win over Minnesota that also featured a complete-game 13-hitter by Ross Grimsley.