Hoiles makes long night worthwhile for Orioles

June 23, 1993|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Staff Writer

Chris Hoiles knew after the first inning it might be a long night for the Orioles. But he could be excused for being the last to suspect the sixth inning would require as much time as it did.

The Orioles catcher set a career high with six RBI, four on a dramatic grand slam that capped the eight-run sixth inning. Hoiles had started that inning by taking a called third strike, and the last thing he was thinking of at the time was batting again before the third out had been recorded.

"I didn't do my job there [leading off the sixth]," Hoiles said. "I was upset with myself for not getting the ball in play."

Then, strange things happened. After David Segui grounded out for the second out, the Orioles sent nine more hitters to the plate before Leo Gomez flied out to end the inning. A 7-3 deficit had been transformed into an 11-7 lead, and according to Hoiles, it was Gomez who provided the impetus for the outburst.

"I think Leo's homer [after Segui grounded out] turned the game around," said Hoiles, who had an earlier homer himself in the second inning. "We had been plugging away, getting a run an inning, and I think Leo's homer really got us going."

Six batters after the homer by Gomez, Hoiles found himself back at home plate -- with the score tied and the bases loaded. He scorched a 1-and-2 pitch from Kurt Knudsen that got over the center-field fence. Hoiles, though, might have been the last to know.

"I didn't know it was over the fence until I got to second base," he said. "I thought it had bounced over for a ground-rule double."

When the enormity of the situation hit him, Hoiles acknowledged "it was a great feeling." The blast touched off a celebration that didn't subside until Hoiles emerged from the dugout for a curtain call.

Hoiles acknowledged that it wasn't a good feeling when Travis Fryman homered to give the Tigers a 3-0 lead in the first inning. "Especially when they came back with two more in the second inning. It was 5-0, and it seemed like we hadn't really gotten started yet. It wasn't a good mood to play with," he said.

The fact that staff ace Mike Mussina had given up those five runs,added to the general depression. "But we kept plugging away," Hoiles said.

"That's something that was lacking early in the year that we've been doing lately. And to come back and beat these guys the way they usually beat everybody, I think is going to help us.

"If we'd have gotten blown out by 7-1 or 9-1 or whatever it might have been, it may have been a little tough on us," Hoiles said . "It seems like they [the Tigers] put double figures on the scoreboard every night. To be able to come back and do it to them, I definitely think it will help us."

Hoiles' turnaround in the past two games has been almost as dramatic as his second home run last night. He was in an 0-for-17 spin before hitting a home run, double and single in Sunday's 6-3 win in Cleveland.

"I feel a lot more comfortable now," he said. "Greg [Biagini, hitting coach] worked on some things in the [batting] cage before the game on Sunday, and I just took what we were doing into the game.

"Basically, I'm just putting some good swings on the ball," said Hoiles, who has taken over the club lead in home runs with 11.

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