Mike Devereaux wasn't worried. Not with Brady Anderson on third base.
"When you get into that situation -- no outs, a runner on third and the infield in -- it seems simple," Devereaux said.
"All you have to do is hit the ball into the outfield because with Brady on third -- and he has good wheels -- you don't even have to hit it too far."
Devereaux hit it far enough for the 45,951 fans at Camden Yards yesterday afternoon. With the score tied 1-1 in the bottom of the 10th, Devereaux popped one to left field off Seattle Mariners reliever Mike Schooler, and Anderson was able to score the game-winning run standing up.
"It's pretty sweet," said Devereaux, who has a team-high 82 RBI. "I'm definitely thrilled."
Devereaux said he wasn't sure he'd have a second opportunity to be a hero. In the bottom of the eighth with two outs, he hit his American League-leading 10th triple against Catonsville native Jeff Nelson, driving home Tim Hulett from second to tie the game.
"I knew they needed to get me out [in the 10th], but I was surprised to see the pitch I did," Devereaux said. "I felt comfortable about it and was hoping that they'd pitch to me. But I'm not sure of the manager's thinking."
Orioles' manager Johnny Oates understood Seattle manager Bill Plummer's strategy.
"He [Schooler] could walk the bases loaded, but he knows someone like Randy Milligan will come off the bench [as a pinch hitter] to hit," Oates said. "When you have your backs to the wall in the bottom of the last inning, it's a crap shoot anyway. The only advantage to walking the bases loaded is you have a chance for a force play at the plate."
Orioles starting pitcher Rick Sutcliffe said that Cal Ripken, hitting third behind Devereaux, was a factor in the decision not to walk Devereaux.
"Everybody was kind of surprised he [Devereaux] got a chance to hit, but that's a tribute to Cal," he said. "If Cal's not hitting behind him, he doesn't get to hit."
Sutcliffe's point is arguable. Ripken has been anything but a threat lately. Yesterday he was 0-for-3, with a grounder to short, a walk, a fly to center and a grounder to second. He is 6-for-36 with a .167 batting average in the past nine games, and has not hit a home run in a career-high 51 games since he hit two at Milwaukee on June 23.
Devereaux, on the other hand, has had the hot bat. He has 19 RBI in his past 18 games and is batting .274 with 61 runs scored. Yesterday, he became the first major-leaguer this season to reach double figures in doubles, triples and homers with 24 doubles, 10 triples and 18 home runs.