Orioles show Tigers they can slug it out, too

July 02, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

The irony was not lost on any of the Orioles, least of all batting coach Tom McCraw.

McCraw was well aware the Detroit Tigers led the American League with 93 home runs and had homered in 10 consecutive games, their longest streak since 1987. He knew the Tigers also led the league in runs, while the Orioles were 11th on the 14-team list.

In a stunning reversal of form, the Orioles pounded four home runs in a 10-2 victory last night and allowed the Tigers not a one. Cecil Fielder came closest, with a single off the leftfield wall.

"Something like this is relative to the pitching, and Ben nullified them," McCraw said, referring to Ben McDonald, who shut out Detroit on two hits over eight innings.

"And our hitters, even when they were going bad, continued to work. If your work ethic is good, and you have talent, you'll come through, like our guys did tonight."

Each of the home run hitters -- Cal Ripken, David Segui, Sam Horn and Leo Gomez -- will remember his blow for a different reason.

For Ripken, it was No. 18, the most of his career at this point in the season. It also brought him within one of a club record set in 1966 by Frank Robinson, who scored at least one run in 11 straight games.

For Segui, it was the second of his major-league career, coming a day after he left a game when he crashed into the leftfield wall. His, like Ripken's, was a three-run shot, marking the first time this season the Orioles have clubbed two in one game.

For Horn, though it was his 12th of the year and 26th as an Oriole, it was his first against a lefthanded pitcher (Steve Searcy) since 1987 when he was with the Boston Red Sox.

"I'm proud of it for that reason, because it was off a lefthander," Horn said. "I had a lot of battles with Searcy in the minors, and he always won. But this time he got a fastball in on me . . . "

For Gomez, who entered the game in an 0-for-14 slump, it was evidence he indeed belongs in the majors. The home run was his fourth.

"The last few days I had been jumping at the ball," Gomez said. "I kept telling myself to relax and try to see the ball first before I jump at it. In the minors I hit 18, 20 homers, so this means I can hit home runs here, too."

For manager John Oates, the four home runs translated into the Orioles' eighth win in their last 10 games. In his estimation, none was more special than the others.

"Cal's got us out in front in the first inning, and you appreciate everything tacked on after that," Oates said. "I liked seeing Sam hit one off a lefthander and it's nice when the young guys contribute. I'll remember all of them."

So will Detroit pitcher Dan Gakeler. He gave up only one of the homers, Ripken's, but was charged with six runs after he departed in the fourth inning.

"My hat is off to the Orioles," Gakeler said. "They hit the ball hard all night. There isn't [any] one pitch I want back. I just kept the ball up in the strike zone all night."

McCraw readily admitted it was more pleasant to talk about Orioles hitting home runs than about Orioles hitters in slumps, but he stopped short of rejoicing.

"You accept the bad as well as the good," he said. "When you're in the kitchen, you have to take the heat."

For one night at least, McCraw had a reprieve from the kitchen.

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