White Sox power way past Orioles, 4-2

June 04, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

The Chicago White Sox, powerful proof that the best way to build a winner is by drafting and developing players and putting on the finishing touches with outside acquisitions, beat the Orioles with home-grown talent last night at Camden Yards.

Power pitching and power hitting, drafted and groomed by the White Sox, proved more than the Orioles could handle in the opener of a three-game series.

The White Sox rode home runs by Frank Thomas and Robin Ventura and seven strong innings from Jason Bere to a 4-2 victory over the Orioles as 47,243 spectators watched the hometown team lose for the 13th time in 20 games.

The Orioles are not in denial. They know their recent play doesn't cut it.

"I think we know we have to play better," Brady Anderson said. "At the same time, I don't think we should panic."

The Orioles are on a pace to win 91 games.

"I think we'll need to pick up the pace a little in this division," Anderson said.

The third-place Orioles, who didn't lose any ground on the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox in the AL East, wasted a big night from Anderson, who hit his sixth home run, stole his 13th base and scored a pair of runs, and squandered three hits from limping Rafael Palmeiro, who played with a painful ingrown toenail on his right big toe.

The Orioles got a complete-game seven-hitter from left-hander Sid Fernandez (3-3, 4.16), who has allowed 13 home runs in his 61 2/3 innings.

Bere (7-1, 3.26) won for the 15th time in his past 16 decisions. He allowed two earned runs on five hits and four walks in seven innings. He threw 127 pitches and watched his victory be preserved by Kirk McCaskill, who inherited runners on the corners and nobody out from left-handed reliever Dennis Cook in the eighth.

McCaskill retired Cal Ripken, who stranded five runners on the night, on a pop-up to short and got Leo Gomez (0-for-3) to ground into a double play. Roberto Hernandez pitched a 1-2-3 ninth to earn his sixth save.

Fernandez gave the Orioles' bullpen a rest for the evening.

As is usually the case when Fernandez pitches, the Orioles (28-23) offered little support. They have averaged 3.3 runs per nine innings for Fernandez, who has received the second-worst support of any American League starter.

Fernandez allowed seven hits, four earned runs and one walk. He struck out three in his first complete game in the American League.

"I felt real good tonight," Fernandez said. "Right now they are a hot-hitting team. Not too many guys have held them to four runs, so that's one positive thing anyway."

Fernandez induced an inning-ending double-play grounder from Joey Cora in the third, a huge play considering who was standing in the on-deck circle.

It guaranteed Thomas would come to the plate with nobody on base. The worst Thomas could do when he led off the fourth inning was put the Orioles behind 2-1, which is precisely what he did.

His 21st home run landed in the left-field seats, an estimated 414 feet from home plate.

But it wasn't how far this home run traveled that had Thomas' signature on it. It was how high. If there truly is life on other planets, aliens discovered baseball last night.

Does anyone hit them higher?

"Dave Kingman," answered Anderson, who watched it land in the seats.

It was the 50th RBI of the season for Thomas, who has a 12-game hitting streak. He has hit a home run in each of his four games against the Orioles. Two came off Fernandez.

"I wanted to go away with it and I caught too much of the plate," Fernandez said. "Sometimes you get away with it, sometimes you don't."

Fernandez didn't make it tough enough for Thomas, who covers every quadrant of the strike zone well.

"He didn't get the ball where he wanted it," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "But there is no guarantee that if you get the ball where you want it it's going to be any different. But down the middle to Frank Thomas is not a good place to put it."

The next time Thomas came up, Fernandez walked him.

During May, Thomas batted .452 with 39 runs, 12 home runs, 28 RBI, 31 walks, a .988 slugging percentage and a .493 on-base percentage. He was named American League Player of the Month, even with the month Ken Griffey had for the Seattle Mariners.

Thomas has scored at least one run in 20 of Chicago's past 23 games.

Julio Franco followed Thomas' home run with a long fly that spelled trouble until Orioles center fielder Mike Devereaux made a running catch at the fence, bringing up Robin Ventura.

There would be no catching the rope off Ventura's bat, a just-fair, 398-foot home run to right, Ventura's 11th homer, which put Fernandez behind 3-1.

The White Sox had taken a 1-0 lead in the second, when Franco led off with a double, tagged up on Ventura's fly to right and came home on Darrin Jackson's line single to left.

The Orioles tied it with a run in the third. Anderson led off with a walk, stole second, and, after Palmeiro walked with two out, scored on Harold Baines' bloop double to left that a quartet of White Sox converged on but could not reach.

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