Fielder too sweet for Orioles to beat

April 14, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Shortstop Cal Ripken, pitcher Ben McDonald, strength and conditioning coach Tim Bishop and trainer Jamie Reed of the Orioles had the right idea yesterday.

They took Cecil Fielder away from Tiger Stadium, joining him at a hockey game between the Detroit Red Wings and Montreal Canadiens. Their timing was a little off, that's all. To be exact, they were nine innings late.

One day into the "Cecil Bar" era, Cecil Fielder was batting 1.000 and was one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Fielder's two-run home run off left-hander Jamie Moyer that barely cleared the left-field fence in the sixth inning proved the decisive hit in the Tigers' 6-3 win over the Orioles yesterday in front of 10,251 raincoats.

One day after holding a news conference to publicize his candy bar, Fielder mixed in two singles and a double in support of victorious right-hander John Doherty (1-1), who tamed the Orioles in typical fashion for the win.

"It's not the candy bar," Fielder said after going 4-for-4. "I can just hit."

Fielder will hear no argument from Moyer (0-1, 5.65), who took the loss after allowing seven hits, four earned runs and two home runs in 6 2/3 innings.

"He's not just big and strong," Moyer said. "He knows how to swing the bat."

Fielder's fourth home run, which followed Eric Davis' leadoff walk and came off a low changeup from Moyer, gave the Tigers a 3-1 lead. Fielder was out in front of the pitch and didn't appear to make solid contact, a tribute to his strength that it still went out.

But that wasn't the hit that most impressed Moyer. Leading off the second, Fielder drove a low-and-away fastball off the top of the right-field fence, barely eluding Orioles right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds.

"I got glove on it, I got fence, I got everything," Hammonds said. "That was a tough play, but I felt as though I could have caught that."

That Fielder hit it in the first place surprised Moyer, who had limited Fielder to one hit in nine at-bats going into the game.

"That pitch was below his knees and away," Moyer said. "He ZTC went down and got that ball. You make good pitches, and he still hits the ball hard."

Fielder scored from second on Danny Bautista's single to center fielder Mike Devereaux, whose low throw didn't have enough on it for a play at the plate.

The lead held up until the fifth, when Mark McLemore's two-out single to right scored Ripken from third, where he advanced on a leadoff double and Tim Hulett's one-out grounder.

Doherty, who opened the game by retiring the first 11 batters, then gave up a single to Hammonds, which advanced McLemore to third. Doherty escaped with the score tied 1-1 by getting Brady Anderson on a grounder back to the mound.

After Fielder's two-run homer, the Orioles cut the lead to 3-2 when Hulett led off the seventh with a single to left, took third on McLemore's single to center and scored when Hammonds hit what appeared to be a routine double-play ball to short. But, with Hammonds running, there is no such thing as a routine double-play ball. Hammonds beat second baseman Juan Samuel's relay to first.

Earlier, even Hammonds' speed couldn't nullify a spectacular play by Fielder at first base. Nimble for his size, Fielder dived toward the line to stab Hammonds' hard, two-out grounder in the third, then threw him out from his seat on the ground.

After Hammonds' legs earned him an RBI in the seventh, Moyer again was burned by the long ball. With two outs, Tony Phillips hit his first home run, helped along by a wind that blew out toward right.

"I'm not going to make any excuses about the rain or the wind," Moyer said. "No weather excuses."

The pitch to Phillips was the last of 109 thrown by Moyer. Orioles manager Johnny Oates replaced him with Mark Eichhorn. Two batters later, a 4-2 deficit became a 6-2 deficit. Eichhorn walked Samuel and delivered a 1-1 pitch Davis hit over the left-field fence for his first home run.

Bill Krueger, the only left-hander in Detroit's bullpen, was brought in to face left-handed hitters Rafael Palmeiro and Harold Baines at the start of the eighth. Continuing his dominance of Krueger, Baines hit his second home run, to left-center with one out and the bases empty in the eighth.

Since statisticians began officially tracking pitcher-hitter matchups, Baines is 16-for-33 with three home runs and eight RBIs against Krueger.

At that point, Tigers manager Sparky Anderson went to closer Mike Henneman earlier than usual. Henneman set down the final five Orioles in order for his second save.

Doherty gave Anderson seven innings, allowed two runs on eight hits, and improved his career record against the Orioles to 4-0 with a 1.44 ERA.

Doherty went 14-11 with a 4.44 ERA in 1993, his first full season in the Tigers' rotation.

"He's a good pitcher," Oates said. "He was their biggest winner last year, so I don't think we're the only team he has success


Doherty was the first starting pitcher to enjoy that extent of success against the Orioles (4-3) this season. The Orioles scored fewer than four runs in a game for the first time.

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