Oates, just kidding about quitting, not amused by white-flag comment

Ken Rosenthal

July 07, 1992|By Ken Rosenthal

It was after midnight.

The first-base coach had seen enough.

"Davey Lopes told Brady [Anderson] in the last inning, 'If we don't score, I'm quitting,' " Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

"I was quitting, too," Oates deadpanned. "I don't know if I could have taken another one."

Well, the Orioles finally won it, 4-3, in the 14th, with Mike Devereaux bouncing a bases-loaded single between short and third with the Chicago White Sox playing the infield in.

Just think:

What if they had lost?

After dropping back-to-back heart-breakers in Minnesota? After allowing six hits in 14 innings? After tying a club record with 21 left on base?

"I might not have left here," Devereaux said.

"I'd still be on the bench," Rick Sutcliffe said.

"We could have packed the season up," Randy Milligan said.

Uh, easy there, Randy.

"If he's going to quit that easy, I'll remember that," Oates said, quickly turning serious. "There's no such thing in this game as a must win."

Oates is right, of course, but it's safe to assume the Orioles wouldn't have been mistaken for the Good Ship Lollipop had the outcome been reversed.

What if they had lost?

After failing to take advantage of three Chicago errors? After stranding runners every inning but the 12th? After loading the bases four times?

General manager Roland Hemond checked with Oates afterward see if the club needed more pitching, just as he did after Saturday's 15-inning marathon in Minnesota.

Hey, Roland, how about a Sherpa guide to navigate the Orioles through the Mount Everest that rises along the third-base line every time a runner gets within 90 feet of home plate?

You just knew last night would be a doozy when Cal Ripken and Sam Horn failed for the second straight day to score a runner from third with less than two out in the first inning.

Joe Orsulak drove home a run that inning with a bases-loaded walk, the most dangerous offensive weapon in the Orioles arsenal this side of the sacrifice bunt.

Get this: The Orioles have attempted a whopping nine sacrifices the past three games. Six have been successful, but none has led to runs.

Earl Weaver probably will hit Oates over the head with a golf club the next time he's in town. But, as Oates so accurately put it, "We're not hitting any three-run home runs."

In fact, the Orioles' 3-4 hitters -- Ripken, Horn and Glenn Davis -- are a combined 0-for-31 in the past three games. The club is 6-for-46 with men in scoring position over that stretch.

Where have you gone, Chris Hoiles?

Things turned so frantic last night, the Orioles had three runners thrown out at third base, the White Sox threw two balls into center field and the umpires changed two calls.

And that was just in extra innings.

One of the unlucky runners was Bill Ripken, who ran for the lumbering Horn despite a sprained ankle. Another was Tim Hulett, who made a classic bone-head play with the bases loaded and none out in the 10th.

The inning, naturally, started with two bunts -- the first a single by Rick Dempsey, the second a weak sacrifice attempt by Hulett that bounced directly in front of the plate.

Perfectly, as it turned out.

Ron Karkovice, normally an excellent defensive catcher, threw the ball into center field. Dempsey, 42, raced to third -- Sutcliffe said he needed "mouth-to-mouth resuscitation" -- and Anderson

received an intentional walk to load the bases.

With the infield in, Devereaux hit a sharp grounder to second, and Steve Sax threw home for the force. It should have been the only out, but Hulett got an incredibly poor jump.

Karkovice double-clutched, then fired to third. Umpire Ted Hendry was so surprised, he initially signaled Hulett safe, not realizing it was a force.

Hendry quickly changed his call. Of course, his reversal was nothing compared with the one plate umpire Jim Evans pulled in the 13th, calling Tim Raines safe at home, then out after Dempsey applied a tag.

Raines missed the plate.

He also ran through a stop sign.

But back to Hulett.

"I hadn't played in 15 days. I was enjoying being back on the field. I thought if I prolonged the game, I could get a couple of

extra at-bats . . . "

"No," Hulett added, turning serious. "It was just a vapor lock."

Hulett, though, redeemed himself in the 14th, hitting a one-out single after Leo Gomez drew a leadoff walk. Anderson then drew his second intentional walk (and fourth of the game), giving Devereaux another shot.

"Jimmy," Anderson jokingly asked equipment manager Jimmy Tyler after the 4-hour, 38-minute epic was complete, "How come this spaghetti's not warm?"

It was after midnight.

They all had seen enough.

"I'm only going to put up with this 17 more years," 17-year veteran Mike Flanagan said. "Then I'm going to quit."

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