MINNEAPOLIS -- Yesterday was the fourth anniversary of one of the most significant dates in Orioles history -- and ex-manager Frank Robinson remembers it as if it were "light-years ago."
It was April 29, 1988, that Mark Williamson and Dave Schmidcombined to shut out the Chicago White Sox, 9-0. That win not only kept the Orioles from going winless in April, but it also broke a record season-opening 21-game losing streak.
"All I remember about that game is nine runs," said Robinson, aassistant general manager with the Orioles and a press box spectator at yesterday's 5-4 win.
Robinson had succeeded Cal Ripken Sr. as manager after the sixth game of the 1988 season -- and didn't record his first win until his 16th game. "It was like the seventh game of the World Series," said Robinson. "The players were very upbeat, and I remember being happy for them. Personally, it was a relieving feeling. All I wanted to do was get the thing over with. It seems like light-years ago."
And how did he celebrate? "I went back to the hotel and slepreal good," said Robinson.
The Orioles are virtually assured of crowds in excess of 40,000 for all 10 games on the upcoming homestand. Fewer than 6,000 tickets remain for the three-game weekend series against the Seattle Mariners.
As of last night, approximately 2,150 seats were left for tomorrow night's game, 1,200 for Saturday night and 1,950 for Sunday. Advance sales are almost as brisk for next week.
The Bargain Night games against the Texas Rangers on Monday (9,200 remaining) and Minnesota on Thursday (5,600), and the Wednesday night game against the Twins (7,900) have the smallest advance sales. The Tuesday afternoon game against the Rangers is within 1,800 of a sellout, and fewer than 7,000 total remain for next weekend's series against the Chicago White Sox.
No TV tomorrow
Home Team Sports will pre-empt the Orioles-Mariners game tomorrow night to show Game 7 of the Patrick Division semifinal hockey series between the Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins.
The Orioles will use their starting "front line" in the first two games against Seattle -- and give away 3 inches in the first matchup.
Ben McDonald and Rick Sutcliffe, (both of whom stand 6 feet 7), and Mike Mussina, the "point guard" of the starting rotation at 6-2, are the Orioles' scheduled starting pitchers for the series. In tomorrow night's opener, McDonald (2-0, 3.47 ERA) will face left-hander Randy Johnson
(3-0, 1.53), who at 6-10 is the tallest pitcher in major-league history.
Erik Hanson (1-3, 5.04) opposes Sutcliffe (3-2, 2.65) Saturday night, with Rich DeLucia (1-2, 8.10) to face Mussina (3-0, 2.37) Sunday.
Brady on the loose
Brady Anderson's eighth stolen base (in nine attempts) created the Orioles' fourth run yesterday. After leading off the seventh inning with a walk, Anderson stole second, went to third when shortstop Donnie Hill failed to hold catcher Lenny Webster's high throw, and scored on Cal Ripken's high bouncer to third.
Anderson usually has the green light to run any time. "I have a 'don't go' and a 'must go' sign, but other than that he's on his own," said manager Johnny Oates. "Brady's done a good job picking his spots."
The only time Anderson has been caught this year came on his first attempt, when the Cleveland Indians' Sandy Alomar threw him out in the third game of the season.
The Orioles' 13-8 record is their best in April since 1985, when they went 12-7. It is their most wins in the first month since 1979 (14). . . . The series win in Minnesota was only the second for the Orioles since 1987 -- they also won two of three June 29-July 1, 1990. Since losing three games in Toronto, the Orioles have won five of their past six on artificial surfaces.
Odds 'n' ends
The Orioles' 13-8 record is their best in April since 1985, when they went 12-7. It is their most wins in the first month since 1979 (14).
The series win in Minnesota was only the second for the Orioles since 1987 -- they also won two of three June 29-July 1, 1990. Since losing three games in Toronto, the Orioles have won five of their past six on artificial surface.
The 64 extra-base hits by the Orioles was second highest in the major leagues behind Texas (66) going into last night's games.