Road trip was as good as could be expected

INSIDE PITCH

May 30, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

All things considered, the road trip just concluded by the Orioles was as good as possible. Which, considering the high degree of expectation and the current climate, probably means it wasn't hot enough.

When they left town 11 days ago, the Orioles had lost five of their past six games, a stretch they would extend to seven of eight. They were caught in a horrendous batting slump that was causing nervous reactions all over the 75-mile drawing radius.

Brady Anderson and Mike Devereaux, the top two hitters in the lineup, had just started to give indications of shaking their doldrums. But Rafael Palmeiro, on the tail end of an impressive 24-game hitting streak, and Harold Baines, who hit third and fourth, had a mild case of the blahs.

Cal Ripken, the club's RBI leader in the No. 5 spot, was swinging a productive but not overpowering bat. Chris Hoiles had to be dropped in the batting order and both Chris Sabo and Jeffrey Hammonds were missing. That left Leo (Remember Me, I Used To Be On The Trading Block) Gomez as the team's hottest hitter.

It was hardly the most encouraging of situations. No longer was it possible for the American League's Eastern Division title to be clinched before Father's Day, as some apparently had expected.

But, on the first traditional holiday checkpoint of the season, here's the bottom line on the last nine games -- the Orioles won the three games they were supposed to win; lost two games they basically had no chance of winning; and split the remaining four.

Considering there were two first-place teams, the New York Yankees and Chicago White Sox, involved, the trip by any reasonable definition should be classified as a success. Whether such performances are good enough will be determined during the next few months.

After 46 games, a few chinks have appeared in the Orioles' armor. Offensively they have not produced as effectively as expected. The pitching staff overall has been generally good, but hardly trouble-free.

Overall, only the defense has performed consistently at a level of excellence.

There are still questions but, because it isn't July or August, more time is needed to provide the answers. It'll take awhile to determine if this team better resembles the 1983 -- or 1984 -- Orioles. You can forget the 1927 Yankees.

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