Oquist's high 5 flattens Jays

May 11, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

He appeared destined for anonymity. The unknown Oriole. The 25th man who watches from the bullpen. And watches and watches, waiting for the phone call that never comes.

Mike what's his name again?

Mike Oquist. That's it. Oquist.

A household name in his household only, Oquist made a name for himself last night before a sellout crowd of 47,194 at Oriole Park.

He brought the audience to its feet for a peppy ovation when he walked off the mound in the middle of the eighth inning of the Orioles' 6-3 come-from-behind victory over the reeling Toronto Blue Jays.

Earning his first major-league victory, Oquist did not allow a hit in five innings of relief in a game started by left-hander Jamie Moyer. He walked two, hit two and struck out five.

"I've seen guys throw harder than he does, but he gets people out," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates. "That's what I've seen from him from day one. He changes speeds and moves the ball in and out and up and down and gets people out."

Lee Smith pitched the ninth for his 15th save in 16 opportunities.

Oquist pitched in one game for one inning in his first 15 days with the Orioles. He was scheduled to make his first major-league start Saturday, but the game was rained out.

Three days later, the skies were clear and so was the path for Oquist when the Blue Jays scored three runs off Moyer in the third.

"It's a great feeling to get the first win out of the way," Oquist said. "This does nothing but boost your confidence."

Moyer, pitching with 10 days' rest, appreciated the boost.

"Okie pitched outstanding," said Moyer, who had pitched into the seventh inning in each of his first five starts. "It was something he needed, something we needed and something the bullpen needed. In my mind the bullpen is starting to turn the corner."

Before Smith came on, Jim Poole had retired pinch hitter Mike Huff on a soft liner to short to end the eighth.

Oquist entered the game with two outs and two on in the third with the Orioles trailing 3-0. He exited with two outs and two on in the eighth with the Orioles leading 6-3.

Cal Ripken homered, singled and drove in two runs to lead a 12-hit offense that unloaded on Toronto starter Juan Guzman in the fourth and fifth innings.

Burned by Ripken two innings earlier, the Blue Jays were not about to let him beat them again with the score tied, 3-3, first base open and two outs in the fifth inning.

Toronto manager Cito Gaston order an intentional walk of Ripken, so that Guzman could pitch to Chris Hoiles with the bases loaded. Hoiles responded with a liner up the middle that gave the Orioles a 5-3 lead.

Guzman took a two-hit shutout and a 3-0 lead into the fourth, when his evening began to unravel. Rafael Palmeiro (14-game hitting streak), Harold Baines and Ripken singled in succession, and Hoiles walked, bringing Leo Gomez to the plate with one run in and the bases loaded.

Gomez hit a drive off the top of the left-field wall to drive in two runs and tie the game. At least that's how it went down in the scorebook after home-plate umpire Ted Hendry called Hoiles out on the play.

The replay suggested that Hoiles, who tried to score from first with none out, avoided catcher Pat Borders -- but replays don't count.

The hit gave Gomez, suddenly a very important part of the team with third baseman Chris Sabo on the 15-day disabled list, seven RBIs in the past seven games.

Pushing his batting average to .424 with runners in scoring position, Ripken drove in the Orioles' first run with a single.

Guzman, like so many staff aces throughout baseball, continued to struggle as his ERA climbed to 6.75. He lasted five innings and allowed eight hits and five runs.

Moyer allowed one base runner in the first two innings, when Ed Sprague doubled with two outs. Then Moyer got singled right out of the game in the third.

Toronto singled five times off Moyer in the inning before Oquist came on to strike out pinch hitter Carlos Delgado, the rookie who hit a pair of home runs off Oquist during spring training.

The greatest statistical improbability of the night came from Toronto's Roberto Alomar, who struck out three times. He went down against Moyer in the first, Oquist in the fourth, and Smith in the ninth.

Alomar pinned the blame for his rough night largely on Hendry.

"This is big-league baseball," Alomar said. "This isn't the minor leagues. You should get a better zone. You should call a better game. Those balls were not even close."

Alomar gave Hendry part of the credit for Oquist's five-strikeout night.

"He was throwing a good breaking ball and mixing his pitches well," Alomar said. "But when you have that big a zone, you have room to work with."


Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 7:35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Blue Jays' Todd Stottlemyre (3-0, 3.38) vs. Orioles' Mike Mussina (5-1, 2.73)

Tickets: Scattered singles remain, not including 183 bleacher and 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.

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