Oriole Park erupted in a spontaneous celebration last night. The Orioles swept the Detroit Tigers right out of town with an offensive display that had the crowd of 45,013 literally dancing in the aisles.
No doubt, they were dancing in the dugout, too, after a 16-hit attack that trounced the Tigers, 12-4, and completed a sweep of the brief four-game homestand.
The only bad news is that the club had to leave town late last night to open a nine-game road trip in Kansas City tonight. The Orioles were getting very comfortable in their new digs, as evidenced by their 6-1 record in the first two series at Camden Yards.
There had been some debate lately as to the hitability of the new ballpark, but the Orioles and Tigers established last night that it is not the toughest place in the world to clear the fences. There were five home runs -- including three in a row by the Tigers in the third inning -- and enough offensive fireworks to dismiss the notion that it is anything but a pitchers' park.
Center fielder Mike Devereaux had a tremendous night, with a home run, a triple, a single and a spectacular leaping catch to highlight the Orioles' most exciting performance of the season. Shortstop Cal Ripken chipped in with three hits, Sam Horn had a mammoth home run, and four other Orioles drove in runs to bail pitcher Ben McDonald out of another potential loss.
It might be a hitters' park, but it was an impressive first night for relief pitcher Alan Mills, who pitched 3 1/3 hitless innings to get the victory in his Orioles debut. He came on in relief of a beleaguered McDonald and held things together while the Orioles staged their first big comeback of the young season.
Mills, who was acquired from the New York Yankees this spring HTC for Francisco de la Rosa and a player to be named, walked three and struck out four on the way to only his third major-league victory. He has been with the Orioles since Saturday, taking Mark Williamson's spot on the roster.
Todd Frohwirth followed Mills, pitching three innings of one-hit relief to get his first save of the season.
McDonald battled the flu all weekend, which might explain why he didn't put up much of a fight last night. The Tigers knocked him silly in the third inning and almost knocked a few bricks out of Oriole Park in the process.
Three straight Tigers conquered the confines of Camden Yards, sending McDonald to an early shower with a homer hat-trick that helped carry the Tigers to a lightning-quick four-run lead.
Alan Trammell, Cecil Fielder and former Orioles catcher Mickey Tettleton homered in the span of just seven pitches to break open a scoreless game and temporarily pump some life into the slumping Tigers offense.
McDonald had lost 8 pounds during his three-day illness, but he had not given up a hit until Trammell's two-out line drive barely cleared the 333-foot sign in the left-field corner. Moments later, Fielder reached out and pulled a shot to straightaway left that landed in the first row of the bleachers.
Left fielder Brady Anderson made a leaping try for Fielder's fifth homer of the season -- and he didn't miss by much -- but all he came down with was a sore elbow.
There would be no doubt about Tettleton's line drive to right, which cleared the Tall Wall and kept going until it had one-hopped the warehouse. The drive landed on the Eutaw Street corridor, 406 feet from home plate, but the tape measure does not tell the whole story. The ball touched down on a surface that is 25 feet above the playing field, so it probably would have traveled closer to 430 feet on the same plane.
Tettleton came up approximately 26 feet short of the warehouse, which has been estimated to be a 460-foot shot from home plate.
It was the first time an Orioles pitcher had given up three consecutive home runs since July 28, 1987, when right-hander Tom Niedenfuer gave up three straight against Detroit in the ninth inning of a game at Tiger Stadium.
McDonald didn't stay around much longer. He gave up a single to Tony Phillips and a run-scoring double to Rob Deer before giving way to Mills. But the offensive show was just beginning.
The Orioles had managed just one hit in the first three innings against Tigers starter Eric King, who came into the game with a 7-1 lifetime record against Baltimore. But they batted around in the fourth to take the lead and knock him out of the game.
Devereaux started the assault with a shot to left-center that hit the fence on the fly and then caromed off center fielder Milt Cuyler for a stand-up triple. Ripken followed with a bloop single to right for the first run and Horn made it a one-run game with a shot to center that was hit every bit as hard as the Tettleton blast.
Horn crushed it, sending a towering fly ball halfway into the center-field bleachers for his first home run of the season. He had a couple of near-misses in Sunday's game, driving a pair of long foul balls, but there was no doubt this time.
King retired the next two batters, but Leo Gomez pulled a double into the left-field corner and Chris Hoiles singled home the tying run to bring manager Sparky Anderson to the mound. He brought on reliever Les Lancaster, who gave up a tie-breaking single to Bill Ripken before getting out of the inning.