Angels series was heavenly for Devereaux

July 26, 1991|By Doug Brown | Doug Brown,Evening Sun Staff

Maybe it's because his father is in town. Maybe it's because of Monday's off day. Mike Devereaux isn't sure. Neither is Orioles manager John Oates.

All they know is that Devereaux put a 5-for-12 tattoo on California pitching this week after entering the series with only four hits in his previous 34 at-bats, which computes to a miniscule .118.

Devereaux sees little need to search for reasons. But the smile never left his face when he was reviewing his 2-for-4 in last night's 8-4 win over the Angels before 37,444 at Memorial Stadium. In the rivalry with the Angels this season, Devereaux led the Orioles with a .405 average.

It was Devereaux's leadoff home run in the fifth inning that broke a 3-3 tie and gave the Orioles a lead they never relinquished. It was his sacrifice fly that fetched home the Orioles' final run in the eighth.

"I think Devo just needed a day off," Oates said. "He and some other guys, like [Leo] Gomez, were tired. It was a grueling road trip. And then to be playing three straight here against Seattle in heat that reached 114 on the field . . . "

Devereaux's home run was the Orioles' 100th on the season, enabling them to join the Detroit Tigers as the only teams in the majors to reach triple figures. It was No. 12 for Devereaux, matching his 1990 total and putting him first among the American League's leadoff hitters in that department. No Oriole leadoff hitter has had as many as 12 since Don Buford clubbed 19 in 1971.

"My father is in town," Devereaux offered, referring to Fred Devereaux, a constructional engineer at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Tucson, Ariz. "For some reason, whenever he's watching me, I do well. He brings a positive attitude."

His father was his coach in Little League and Babe Ruth baseball for about eight years. One way or another, Fred Devereaux was always involved. But Mike is beyond the point where his father could offer beneficial advice.

"He says see the ball, hit it, relax -- that's about it," Devereaux said, smiling. "He's positive -- positive I can do it."

Like Devereaux, catcher Chris Hoiles also had a home run -- which tied the score at 1 -- and a single. It was his sixth homer, five of which have either tied the score or put the Orioles ahead.

"He's is coming, coming, coming," Oates said, almost gleefully, noting Hoiles has raised his average from .198 to .251 in his last 22 games.

Hoiles agreed. "It's starting to come around," he said. "I'm starting to use the whole field. I've been going to right and that's what you have to do when they are pitching you away. Earlier, I was trying to pull those balls on the outside part of the plate and I was grounding out to third."

Oates admits he has been "surprised" by Hoiles' throwing. He nailed Dick Schofield trying to steal second in the third inning. Cal Ripken never had to move his glove, as Schofield slid into it.

Juan Bell, of all people, had two hits. This is the gent who was batting .130, who was 1-for-17 in his previous six games and 1-for-30, for his career, at the stadium.

"Juan had a lot going against him, including three-quarters of the population of Baltimore," Oates said. "My mail runs 99 percent against him. But he's not short on confidence. I'm tickled to see him play this way."

Bell's 2-for-4 raised his average to a lofty .146. He said it "felt great" to get two hits in one game in his home park for the first time.

"I can hit the ball," said the native of the Dominican Republic. "I don't care what the fans do. They pay to see us. I can do nothing about that. I hope now everything will change."

A shortstop by trade, Bell still looks shaky at second base, as Bill Ripken's replacement. Not everything shows up in the box score. His throw as the pivot man on a routine double-play attempt last night forced Randy Milligan to leap and thereby fail to get the closing end.

"I play seven years at shortstop," Bell said. "Here, I show how I play second base. I think I can do a good job."

The game had a little of almost everything Oates wants to see on a regular basis. There were home runs, other hits at the right time and good work by Todd Frohwirth and Mike Flanagan out of the bullpen in relief of Roy Smith.

Orioles relievers have pitched more innings (327 1/3 ) than any AL team. This was the 55th time in 94 games that the bullpen worked three or more innings.

"Good pitching and timely hitting takes care of a lot of things," Oates said. "We keep sending Frohwirth and Flanagan out there and they keep getting people out at the right times."

The victory was the Orioles' second straight, but Oates has not forgotten they have lost six of their last nine.

"It takes more than two games to get a measure of consistency," he said.

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