SCORE 1 FOR THE BOOKS
History-making run starts Horn on big day
For a change, Sam Horn has made his way into the Orioles record book for something that he can be proud of.
"I'm in there for striking out six times in a game, and now I'm in there for the first run in Camden Yards," said Horn.
The 6-foot-5 left-handed power hitter yesterday became the answer to the question: Which player scored the first run in a regular-season game at Oriole Park at Camden Yards?
The designated hitter scored in the fifth inning on a ground-rule ,, double by Chris Hoiles, the first player to drive in a run, to help the Orioles beat the Cleveland Indians, 2-0.
Lots of folks have predicted that Horn would be the first player to hit the B&O warehouse beyond right field, a 460-foot shot down the line.
Horn figures he'll be the first, too.
"Eventually, I think I will, but I don't want to make that the focus," said Horn, who hit 23 homers in 317 at-bats last year.
Horn, who went 2-for-2 yesterday with a walk, was more interested in talking about hitting to the opposite field and up the middle, where his base hits landed, than thinking about pulling the ball.
"If I hit one ball out [to the warehouse] and struggle, that doesn't help the ballclub or me," said Horn. "It's not beneficial to me to go out and think pull, pull, pull all the time."
Horn may be developing a habit of coming up big on Opening Day. In 1990, when the Orioles opened the season on the road against the Kansas City Royals, Horn hit two three-run homers and went 4-for-6 to lead the Orioles to victory.
Randy Milligan, who likely will rotate with Horn at DH, said he was only "a little disappointed" that he didn't get a start yesterday.
"I knew that's the way it is this year. I'm not crushed," said Milligan. "Everybody that isn't in the lineup on Opening Day is disappointed. I'm not angry about it."
Shortstop Cal Ripken denied a televised report that he has signed a new contract.
Ripken, who is in the last year of his contract, said after the game about the report, "It's news to me."
Hoop du jour
Yes, that was Charles Barkley and Jeff Ruland of the NBA's Philadelphia 76ers, seated about 15 rows behind home plate in the lower deck.
The two were the guest of Orioles starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe.
Sutcliffe and Barkley met when the two were appearing in charity events and have struck up a friendship.
"He [Barkley] spends as much time as anybody I've ever met visiting hospitals and talking to children," said Sutcliffe. "That's not the image you guys [the media] have of him, but that's the way he is."
Barkley visited the Orioles clubhouse after the game, donned a team hat and bantered with reliever Gregg Olson, who, like Barkley, attended Auburn.
It looked better than it was
Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux drew raves from the crowd from his catch of a second-inning drive off the bat of Cleveland's Sandy Alomar near the wall that likely robbed Cleveland of a run.
But Devereaux wasn't quite so willing to take all the praise.
"I misjudged it and I made it look harder than it was," said Devereaux.
With one out in the Indians second, Paul Sorrento hit a drive to left-center that neither Devereaux nor Orioles left fielder Brady Anderson could get to.
Anderson bobbled the ball when he tried to pick it up, and was charged with an error when Sorrento took second on the play.
"I missed the ball that Paul hit, and I was disappointed in myself for that," said Devereaux.
Sutcliffe struck out Mark Whiten, then gave up the drive to Alomar.
Devereaux, considered a good defensive outfielder, said he initially thought he could get to the ball by backtracking a couple of steps.
That is, until he heard from right fielder Joe Orsulak, who told him otherwise.
"I heard Joe scream 'back.' As soon as he was saying 'back,' that's when my mind was thinking, 'Way back,' " said Devereaux.
Good thing, too, for the drive certainly would have scored Sorrento, and likely have put Alomar in scoring position on a day where runs were at a premium.
"Whenever you can stop a run from scoring, it's important," said Devereaux. "That [the catch] kind of took the momentum from them, because Rick [Sutcliffe] came back the next inning and shut them down."
Devereaux and Orsulak both said it's a bit early to compare the new Camden Yards park with Memorial Stadium regarding the sun's effect on seeing the ball, but said the sun won't play many tricks on them.
"We'll have to see as it gets later in the year, but I don't think it will be that big a deal," said Devereaux.
Only the beginning
Yesterday's game, played in 2 hours, 2 minutes, matched the shortest Opening Day in Orioles history, the team's first opener, in 1954 at Detroit. Yesterday's game was one minute shorter than home openers against the Boston Red Sox (1976) and Washington Senators (1958).
The 1976 opener, a 1-0 win over the Red Sox, had been the last time the Orioles shut out an opponent on Opening Day. Jim Palmer (eight innings) and Dyar Miller (one inning) pitched that day.