Mercedes jump-starts offense in memorable big-league 0) debut
By the conclusion of the first inning yesterday, Luis Mercedes had his uniform splattered with dirt and Baltimore Orioles fans solidly in his corner.
In an auspicious major-league debut, Mercedes was exciting and determined. Called up last week from the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings, the outfielder reached base four times as the leadoff hitter and scored the team's two runs in their 3-2 loss to the Kansas City Royals.
"That's the kind of game I've got," he said. "In every league, the fans really like how I play. They pay to see you, so you've got to play it right."
Mercedes reached on an error in his first at-bat. He went from first to third on Brady Anderson's grounder to the left side, diving headfirst into the bag. He scored a speed-manufactured run on Cal Ripken's grounder.
"What you saw was typical of the base-runner he is," Orioles manager John Oates said. "Jerry Narron [Mercedes' manager when he was with the Class AA Hagerstown Suns] told us the only way to stop him is to put a rope on him.
"He runs until one of two things happen: He either scores or they tag him out."
In the third, Mercedes stretched a line-drive hit to right-center into a double and later scored. He also singled and walked.
"It was fun trying to help the team win," he said. "I just want to put the past [a recent suspension while with Rochester] behind me. What happened was not with the fans there."
The Orioles are expected to announce shortly plans for an exhibition game against the New York Mets in the new downtown ballpark.
All that remains is final approval of both clubs and the release of next year's spring-training schedule.
"I think it'll be good to go out and play a game before the season opener," said Oates. "Take Junior [Cal Ripken]. He's played a lot of games at Memorial Stadium. It's going to be a learning process down there.
"I know Carlton Fisk said home games in the new Comiskey Park seemed like road games at first."
The game downtown is scheduled to be played April 3 with a probable starting time of 3 p.m.
50 millionth fan
Chuck Stolting of Rockville, a season-ticket holder since 1983, was selected randomly yesterday as the 50th millionth fan to attend an Orioles game at Memorial Stadium since the team began playing there in 1954.
He received a trip for two to Florida's Universal Studios, two round-trip plane tickets to anywhere in the country, two tickets to the final game here and two to the first game in the new park next season.
Yesterday's attendance of 32,488 pushed the season total to 2,158,953, the third-highest in Orioles history and trailing only those of the last two seasons.
When the Orioles make 2 errors in a game, as they did Saturday night, they have a 2-15 record. When they are errorless, they are 41-37. . . . The Royals finished at Memorial Stadium with a 54-80 all-time record after going 5-1 this season. . . . Anderson had 2 sacrifice bunts to extend his club-leading total to 11. . . . The Orioles finished 34-50 against the West Division, winning the series against only 1 team, Texas (9-3).