With Mike Devereaux and Paul Molitor in the leadoff spots for their respective teams, the big pop could come at any time. If not tonight, then maybe tomorrow night.
The Orioles' Devereaux leads AL leadoff hitters with 12 home runs. Not since Don Buford clubbed 19 in 1970 has an Orioles leadoff hitter had so many. Molitor, his Milwaukee counterpart, has 10.
Neither homered in the first two games of the series, but two chances remain, tonight when Ben McDonald (5-5) faces Jaime Navarro (8-9) and tomorrow night when Bob Milacki (7-5) opposes Bill Wegman (6-6).
Only one of Devereaux's home runs was as the Orioles' first batter of the game, April 26 here against the Brewers. Molitor has led off with a home run four times this season, most recently July 14 against the Chicago White Sox, for the 31st time in his career.
"Molitor waits on a pitch as well and as long as anybody I've seen," said Milwaukee batting coach Don Baylor. "He waits and waits and the ball keeps carrying and carrying. He has quick hands. He has a lot of pop in a short swing."
It is not necessarily wise, in the opinion of Orioles batting coach Tom McCraw, to have a hitter with Devereaux's power in the leadoff spot.
"If we had a leadoff prototype, he'd be in there," McCraw said. "Ideally, you want your leadoff hitter to get on base, steal second and go around and score. That way you put pressure on the other team early."
Baseball's premier leadoff hitter, of course, is the Oakland A's Rickey Henderson, who holds the major-league record with 47 career leadoff home runs, two of them this season. The Orioles are comforted by the knowledge they have seen the last of Henderson this year.