Hit parade: Baines joins 2,000 club

July 25, 1993|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- Designated hitter Harold Baines became the second Orioles player in 15 days to record his 2,000th career hit yesterday when he singled in the third inning against Minnesota Twins right-hander Scott Erickson.

Irony of ironies. Baines, who has been hampered throughout his career by knees problems, beat out an infield chopper to become the 194th player to reach the milestone. The ball bounded high in the air, and Baines reached the bag just a fraction of a step ahead of the throw by Erickson.

"A hit is a hit to me," said Baines, who ended up with three yesterday. "It wasn't one of my easier ones, but it was a hit."

Baines isn't much for talking about himself, but he admitted that the milestone hit was meaningful. He just wanted to keep it in perspective.

"I think after I retire it will be," he said. "Right now, I'm in a pennant race. That's the most important thing."

Shortstop Cal Ripken also recorded his 2,000th major-league hit this month. He singled off Chicago White Sox left-hander Wilson Alvarez on July 10 at Camden Yards.

Ripken, of course, has gotten all of his hits as an Oriole. Baines, another native Marylander, got most of his (1,498) as a member of the Chicago White Sox. He also had 290 as a member of the Oakland Athletics and 142 with the Texas Rangers. The infield single was his 70th hit as an Oriole.

Baines had a solid day all around. He drove in a run with a sacrifice fly in the first inning and followed it up with three straight singles. He got off to a slow start this year, going 10 for his first 44 at-bats (.227), but has batted .343 in the 54 games since. In his last 10 games, he's batting .452 with three home runs and 12 RBI and is now leading the Orioles with a .320 average.

"I'm a second-half player," he said.

"Usually, April and May are pretty slow for me, but I can't tell you why. I'm just happy to be playing a part. They brought me here to drive in runs and I'm trying to do that," he said.

This figured to be a good road trip for Baines. He came into the series batting .311 lifetime at the Metrodome and has a .323 career average at SkyDome. So far, so good. He has five hits in eight at-bats in the first three games of the trip.

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