Orsulak goes 5-for-5, as Orioles pound Twins, 11-5

August 31, 1991|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Sun Staff Correspondent

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Baltimore Orioles and the state of Maryland spared no effort to make the new ballpark at Camden Yards a bricklayer's tribute to baseball tradition, so this probably isn't a good time to find out that the hitters prefer fiberglass and filtered air.

The Orioles made themselves at home at the Metrodome last night. They rolled around on the plastic grass and frolicked under a Teflon sky, but there was nothing artificial about the 11-5 beating they administered to the Minnesota Twins.

Left fielder Joe Orsulak made himself very comfortable at the plate, with a 5-for-5 performance that also included a walk. He TC singled four times and doubled once to drive in three runs in the best single performance of his six-year major-league career. He also made an outstanding defensive play to record his major-league-leading 14th outfield assist.

But it was hardly a one-man show. Cal Ripken drove in four runs and Chris Hoiles had four hits as the Orioles battered the American League West leaders for 17 hits -- 13 of them during an early-inning assault that staked starting pitcher Bob Milacki to a 10-run lead by the bottom of the fifth inning.

Milacki didn't exactly overpower the Twins, who ran up 11 hits during his 6 2/3 innings on the mound, but he didn't have to. The Orioles pounded three Minnesota pitchers and played an impressive defensive game to break a three-game losing streak.

Among the other highlights:

* Ripken's four RBI -- on two doubles and a sacrifice fly -- raised his season total to 87. He's on pace to finish the season with 110, which would match a career high set in 1985.

* Hoiles had four singles in five at-bats to raise his average to .259 in his first career four-hit performance.

* Five Orioles players had at least two hits by the time the first out was recorded in the fifth inning.

* Third baseman Leo Gomez hit his 12th home run of the year, a mammoth shot that landed more than halfway into the bleachers behind left field. The 12 homers leads American League rookies.

The Orioles took two out of three games from the Twins last week at Memorial Stadium, but they were swept in a three-game series the last time they visited this Plexiglas palace. The Metrodome has given more than one team an edifice complex, so it wouldn't have surprised anyone if the Dome domination had continued last night.

But Twins pitcher Tom Edens, who was making only his second start since joining the rotation, gave up five hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings of work as the Orioles jumped out to an early five-run lead.

Ripken drove a one-out RBI double up the alley in right center to get the Orioles on the board in the first inning and also delivered the biggest swing in the four-run second inning that broke the game open.

Edens gave up back-to-back singles to Gomez and Hoiles to open the second and surrendered a run-scoring double to Mike Devereaux. Orsulak walked to load the bases and Ripken pulled a two-run double down the left-field line.

Ripken had gone hitless in his previous two games, but he rebounded with his 55th multiple-hit performance and remained ahead of schedule for his second career 200-hit season.

His second double knocked Edens out of the game, but the Orioles were not through. Glenn Davis greeted reliever Carl Willis with a long sacrifice fly to increase the Baltimore lead to five.

The Twins tried to stage a comeback in the bottom of the second, but a strong defensive play by left fielder Orsulak may have prevented a big inning.

Orsulak ranged far to his right to cut off an apparent double by Brian Harper and made a perfect one-hop throw to cut him down at second base. It was Orsulak's 14th outfield assist, the most by an Oriole since Paul Blair had 14 in 1973.

The Orioles' assault resumed in the fourth, when Orsulak brought home a run with a double and Randy Milligan made it 7-0 with a two-out single. Gomez added a mammoth home run in the fifth as the Metrodome crowd began to get surly.

The Twins usually do the bashing around here, as evidenced by the 39-23 home record they brought into the game. The fans took out their frustrations on left-hander Allan Anderson, who was left in the game to take a beating after Edens and Willis failed to get the club out of the early innings.

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