It just could be: Why Not? Part 2

MIKE LITTWIN

May 08, 1992|By MIKE LITTWIN

They won on a wild pitch.

They won on a wild pitch and on a couple of bloop singles and on some audacious base running and on what seemed like a dozen brilliant Johnny Oates maneuvers in a row.

They won a game they couldn't win against the defending world champions, and what can you say?

You can't say anything.

You're dumbstruck.

You're awestruck.

Can I set it up for you? The Orioles are losing 4-1 in the ninth and Rick Aguilera, only one of the best relievers in the game, is on the mound, and the Orioles look like, well, they had to figure this would be just one of those nights.

Instead, it was a night like none yet seen at Camden Yards.

It was the kind of game that a team in a pennant race looks back on and says, "That was the night we knew we had something."

What am I saying? Orioles in a pennant race?

It's May, right?

All right, it's May. But did you see it? A cold and rainy and awful night somehow turned into something wild and crazy and for the fans, who spent most of the ninth on their feet, thrilling.

It began simply enough. Glenn Davis, making his first start since zTC coming off the disabled list, led off the ninth inning. There was no reason to anticipate much. He is not swinging the bat with any kind of authority, and he didn't this time either. He lifted a ball to right field that should have been caught, except that Jarvis Brown, a ninth-inning defensive replacement, broke back and let the ball drop in front of him.

No one was excited yet. And then Randy Milligan drilled a double to right, and suddenly the tying run was at the plate. The night changed. It grew warmer somehow. What the night was, was charged. And when David Segui sliced a single to left, sending home Davis and putting Milligan on third, the fans who had stuck it out went nuts.

Aguilera, who has seven saves and who hadn't given up a run in his previous five appearances, was pacing. He was stomping around the mound as a game was getting away from him.

Sam Horn, hitting for Bill Ripken, came to the plate. Sam Horn looked to the warehouse. Sam Horn swung mightily and missed. He missed again before running the count to 3-2 and before breaking his bat and dropping a single into left. Mark McLemore, the guy who had been cut by Houston and Cleveland and who has been one of the unexpected stars for the Orioles, had pinch run for Segui. He never stopped on Horn's hit until he had made it to third. It was gutsy, and it worked. And while McLemore went to third, big Sam, two days after his first triple, didn't stop until he got to second, where Joe Orsulak ran for him.

And now we'll see what kind of season this is. It's 4-3, runners on second and third, and the Twins decide to walk Brady Anderson intentionally. Maybe Anderson will become a star someday. Maybe the way he's playing now he'll be walked intentionally a lot of times before he's done. Or maybe this is one he'll tell his children about.

Anyway, the bases were loaded again, when Chito Martinez, batting .095, hit for Tim Hulett. Martinez did nothing more than nub a ball to second. Chuck Knoblauch looked to the plate, almost threw to the plate, but decided he didn't have a play, as McLemore had a great jump off third. Knoblauch settled for getting Martinez at first. That was the only out the Twins would get in the inning.

Cal Ripken was walked intentionally, loading the bases again. And then on a 2-2 count to Mike Devereaux, Aguilera bounced a ball to the backstop, allowing Orsulak to score.

And that was it.

Except you can't just say that was it.

It was more than that.

This was the continuation of what has already been an improbable season. Check out these numbers: The Orioles are 12-2 at Camden Yards. They're 19-9 overall. They've won eight of their past nine, 16 of their past 20. They finished off a two-game sweep of Minnesota.

"It gave me a shot of joy," Glenn Davis would say later.

Why not? (Oops, why does that phrase keep cropping up?)

Whatever is going on might not last forever. Whatever is going on might not last this homestand.

But it's getting harder and harder to ignore what these Orioles are accomplishing.

And whatever happens, nobody is going to forget very soon what happened last night.

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