McLemore's RBI pocket picked

Orioles NOTEBOOK

April 15, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

DETROIT -- Second baseman Mark McLemore took to the plate a .305 batting average with runners in scoring position as an Oriole and appeared ready to deliver in the clutch again with runners on the corners and two outs in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 3-1 win over the Detroit Tigers yesterday.

McLemore drove a smash to the gap in left-center for what appeared to be sure extra bases and a pair of RBI. But Tigers center fielder Eric Davis broke with the crack of the bat and went horizontal to make a spectacular catch.

Asked where that play ranked in defensive plays made against him, McLemore, in his eighth big-league season, didn't hesitate.

"That's it right there," McLemore said. "I've been robbed before, but not like that. I know I'm not the first one he's robbed, I'm just sorry I got in there on his list at all. All I can do is keep hitting the ball hard the way I am and they will start falling eventually."

McLemore, whose average fell to .258, flied to left, walked, pTC popped to short and, in his last at-bat, was on the wrong end of a highlight play, one he doesn't plan to watch again.

"I saw it once, that's enough for me," he said. "Now if that caused us to lose the game, I really couldn't watch it."

McLemore has made a smooth transition back to second base, his natural position, from right field, where he played last season. More than once already, McLemore has flashed impressive range going to his right.

"That doesn't surprise me at all," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "Nothing he's done at second has surprised me. That's his natural position. What he did in right for us last year was what surprised me."

Sabo returns to lineup

Oates was prepared to give third baseman Chris Sabo a second day off to rest his stiff lower back, but Sabo convinced Oates he was ready to play.

Sabo told Oates he wanted to play as soon as he arrived at the ballpark, but Oates reserved judgment until watching Sabo hit and take ground balls.

Sabo singled in a run for his third RBI, flied out twice, and was walked intentionally. He did not have any balls hit to him at third.

Sabo's absence from the lineup Wednesday marked the only variation for Oates from the set lineup he used on Opening Day.

Palmeiro awaits Texas mob

Anticipating a large demand of media requests for former Texas first baseman Rafael Palmeiro, the Orioles scheduled a Palmeiro news conference before tonight's series opener at The Ballpark in Arlington.

Palmeiro last was in the park when the Rangers had a home run-hitting contest as construction of the stadium neared completion.

"I heard it's very nice and it's a hitters' park for sure," Palmeiro said.

Orioles face lefty tomorrow

The Orioles will face a left-handed pitcher for the first time in their 10th game of the season tomorrow, when Texas sends Kenny Rogers to the mound to oppose Ben McDonald.

Reserve infielder/outfielder Jack Voigt has a good chance of getting into a game for the first time then as the designated hitter. Voigt is 3-for-7 with two home runs against Rogers. Oates said he likely will give Harold Baines his first rest of the season.

Oates does not anticipate any other changes.

"When I give McLemore a day off, it will probably be against a left-hander, but nobody needs a day off yet," Oates said. "We've had too many days off in the schedule already."

After an off day Monday, the Orioles play for 13 consecutive days.

Streaks

Baines is the Orioles' only player to reach base by hit or walk in all eight games. . . . Voigt, Leo Gomez and Lonnie Smith await their first action of the season. . . . Mike Devereaux has struck out at least once in every game and has 14 strikeouts in 32 at-bats. Devereaux went 0-for-12 against Detroit. . . . The Orioles have had at least two extra-base hits every game. . . . In taking two of three from the Tigers, the Orioles won a road series for the first time since sweeping Oakland last Sept. 3-5. . . . Yesterday was the last of five straight day games.

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