Mike Devereaux nearly lost his balance while being mobbed by teammates early yesterday morning, moments after his run-scoring single to left field had given the Orioles a 14-inning, 4-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The hit didn't win Devereaux any style points, but it gave the center fielder peace of mind.
"It took about 10 years off my life span doing it," Devereaux said. "It could have been done a lot earlier in the game."
Such was an ending to the opener of the three-game series that began Monday night and ended Tuesday morning after four hours and 38 minutes. Those among the sellout crowd of 45,990 who stayed for the duration -- and many did -- witnessed a game short on execution but long on thrills.
"I knew it would end sooner or later. I was just hoping it would end in our favor," Devereaux said. "It was an ugly day for a lot of people."
And most of those people were wearing Orioles uniforms:
* The Orioles stranded 21 runners, tying a team record set Aug. 25, 1968, in an 18-inning game against the Boston Red Sox (Elrod Hendricks, now the bullpen coach, was stranded six times in that game). In the three games before last night, the Orioles had left 45 men on base and batted just .130 with men in scoring position.
* Cal Ripken was 0-for-5, extending his slump to 0-for-16; and Sam Horn was 0-for-6, prolonging his slump to 0-for-10. In the three games before last night, the Orioles 3-4 hitters (Ripken, Horn and Glenn Davis) were a combined 0-for-31.
* Three Orioles runners -- Brady Anderson, Tim Hulett and Bill Ripken -- were thrown out at third base, all during the extra innings.
And the Orioles still won. "We hung in and gave a good game. We kept pushing and pushing," said Rick Dempsey. "Sooner or later, something is going to happen. We were just able to get through."
The Orioles led 3-2 before Robin Ventura tied the game with a home run to right-center field in the sixth inning. The game was tied 3-3 through nine innings, and then things got really wacky.
First the old "Old-Time Rock and Roll" video, with Dempsey singing lead and Eddie Murray on drums, was played on the center-field scoreboard, just before Dempsey led off the inning. With the crowd screaming, Dempsey laid down a perfect bunt down the third-base line -- his first hit as an Oriole since Sept. 23, 1986.
"I wanted to call time out and get some oxygen," said the 42-year-old catcher.
Hulett tried to bunt Dempsey to second, but the throw by catcher Ron Karkovice sailed into center field, allowing Dempsey to take third. "Did it look like [third-base coach Cal Ripken Sr.] was going to have to give Dempsey mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to revive him, or what?" Rick Sutcliffe said.
The Orioles loaded the bases when Brady Anderson was intentionally walked but, with none out, Devereaux hit a grounder to second baseman Steve Sax. The throw home forced Dempsey, and Karkovice, seeing a runner halfway between second and third, nailed Hulett at third for the double play.
"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," Hulett joked later, before seriously adding, "It was just vapor lock."
The play also avoided a tremendous ovation, which would have occurred had Dempsey crossed the plate with the winning run.
"The fans get me going -- it's just a great feeling," said Dempsey, who was cheered loudly throughout his appearance. "I feel that if I would have scored, I would have thrown my helmet into the upper deck.
Instead, the inning ended when Horn flied out, and the Orioles seemed destined to lose their third in a row. Anderson was DTC caught stealing at third in the 12th with one out, wasting another opportunity. But the White Sox returned the favor, particularly in the 13th, when Tim Raines was thrown out at the plate by Joe Orsulak after running through the hold sign at third base and missing home plate to avoid Dempsey.
Plate umpire Jim Evans appeared to have called Raines safe, but then called him out when Dempsey tagged him. Evans claimed his "safe" call was a signal that no tag had been made at first.
"He gave the safe sign and told me that it meant there was no tag," said White Sox manager Gene Lamont. "I told him I'd never seen a call like that before."
In the 14th, Gomez walked and Hulett singled to right to put runners at first and third with one out. After Anderson was walked intentionally to load the bases, Devereaux sent his game-winning hit to left past the drawn-in infield.
"It definitely picked us up from what happened in Minnesota," Devereaux said. "Hopefully, we can get this out of the way and hit the ball the way we're capable."
Reflecting later on the game, which came after two tough losses at Minnesota, Dempsey said the victory was extremely important.
"Mentally, I don't think it would have been real good for the ballclub [to lose] -- it would have been devastating," Dempsey said. "I saw good signs of maturity on this ballclub."