From top on down, attack quiet

SIDELIGHT

May 16, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

MINNEAPOLIS -- Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux, Rafael Palmeiro, Harold Baines, Cal Ripken, Chris Hoiles. The names say the Orioles have a potent offensive ballclub.

Opposing pitchers say the same.

But the numbers say otherwise. They say the Orioles are a below-average hitting team.

The Orioles average 5.2 runs, compared with an American League average of 5.5.

Nobody expects it to last.

"There are no easy outs in that lineup," Minnesota Twins right-hander Kevin Tapani said after defeating the Orioles, 5-2, yesterday on a five-hitter. "I know a couple of guys are struggling, but you don't approach them any differently because of what their batting averages are. You still know what they are capable of doing."

In the case of the first two hitters in the order, Anderson and Devereaux, the chasm between what they are capable of producing and their 1994 results has been a wide one.

Anderson, being fed an inordinate number of outside pitches, is batting .210, 34 points below the career average he took into this season, and 57 points lower than his average over the past two seasons.

Devereaux, who carried a .257 career average into this season, is batting .193.

Anderson and Devereaux combined to go 1-for-23 in the three-game sweep the Orioles suffered at the hands of the Twins at the Metrodome.

Devereaux leads the team with 35 strikeouts, and Anderson is third with 27.

"Certainly, it's important for the first two guys to get going," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "That's important for any offense. When they are getting on, we score some runs, and when they don't, we don't score many runs."

Said Devereaux of the Orioles' offense: "We haven't hit like we're capable of hitting. I can see signs of coming out of it, but for some reason, my concentration level is not there where it should be."

Other Orioles hitting significantly below their career averages include catcher Hoiles (.241, but 8-for-23 in his past seven games), reserve outfielders Jack Voigt (.217) and Lonnie Smith (.129) and disabled third baseman Chris Sabo (.221).

Going into the day, the Orioles ranked ninth in the league in batting average, 12th in runs, seventh in home runs and 12th in stolen bases.

The Orioles have stolen 16 bases in 22 attempts, picking their running spots carefully.

"You call it conservative; I call it smart," Oates said.

As for the offense in general, call it quiet, particularly at the top.

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