Ripken relays 4-2 victory

June 07, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Kauffman Stadium crowd was afforded a chance last night to see what sort of outfielder Cal Ripken would have made.

It was from the outfield, shallow center to be exact, that the Orioles' starting shortstop for the last 1,924 games made the biggest play of a 4-2 victory over the Kansas City Royals.

The Orioles led by one run with two outs in the sixth inning when Mike Macfarlane tried to score from first on Felix Jose's double to center.

Even a third base coach more conservative in sending runners than William F. Buckley is with his politics would have sent Macfarlane.

Center fielder Mike Devereaux retrieved the ball and Ripken, well aware of who was throwing to him, stationed himself exceptionally deep into the outfield for the relay.

Roberto Clemente would have been proud of the throw Ripken zipped to the plate to catcher Chris Hoiles, who had plenty of time to block the plate and tag the runner.

"All three guys executed and that makes for a good play," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said.

Or in Ripken's case, a great play.

"There are not too many middle infielders in our league who can make that throw," Oates said. "The only other one I can think of is [Toronto's Roberto] Alomar. There aren't many who can make a throw that strong and that accurate."

Ripken camouflaged Devereaux's biggest weakness, his throwing arm.

"He was right where he was supposed to be," Oates said. "Who would you rather have making the longer throw, Devo or Junior? The strongest arm makes the longest throw."

Ripken's throw kept the Royals from tying the game and preserved the victory for Orioles ace Mike Mussina (8-3, 2.78), who pitched 7 1/3 innings and allowed two runs on seven hits and one walk. He struck out three and allowed a home run to Macfarlane for the second time this season.

Mussina's 3-2 lead looked mighty tenuous when he opened the eighth by walking Vince Coleman. Mussina, who has one of the best pickoff moves for a right-hander, threw to first eight times to hold Coleman with Brian McRae at the plate.

McRae flied to center and Oates replaced Mussina with left-hander Jim Poole to face Wally Joyner, who flied to left. After Hubie Brooks was announced as a pinch hitter for Bob Hamelin, Oates replaced Poole with right-hander Alan Mills.

For the second time of the night, Coleman attempted to steal second and wound up on third. Second baseman Mark ` McLemore failed to get his body in front of Hoiles' throw and Hoiles was charged with his second throwing error of the night on a Coleman stolen base.

"You can't stop him," Oates said of Coleman. "All you can do is slow him down. Mussina and Poole both did a great job of holding him at first until there were two outs."

Mills retired Brooks on a grounder to McLemore and Lee Smith earned his 22nd save in 24 chances with a 1-2-3 ninth.

Macfarlane, who had homered off of Mussina in the second inning, nearly homered twice against Smith in the ninth. He sent one deep enough to left but in foul territory, then flied to Devereaux at the wall in right-center.

Smith then struck out Jose and Greg Gagne for the save.

Mussina won a duel against Kansas City right-hander Tom Gordon (5-4, 4.48), who allowed three runs in eight innings on seven hits and five walks.

Leo Gomez drove in the winning run for the Orioles with a sacrifice fly to center in the sixth, breaking a 2-2 tie. Devereaux drove in a pair of runs, on an infield hit and a sacrifice fly, and Hoiles doubled in a run.

It was Gomez's 25th RBI in his past 29 games.

"He's on every pitch right now," teammate Rafael Palmeiro said of Gomez. "He's not getting fooled. He's not swinging at bad pitches. He's hitting everything hard. He's locked, as we like to call it."

Gomez, who walked his first two times up against Gordon, came to the plate with runners on the corners.

Harold Baines led off the inning with a single to right and moved to third when McRae bobbled Ripken's single to center and was charged with his first error.

Gomez then produced his sacrifice fly. After Gordon struck out Hoiles, McLemore singled to again put runners on the corners with two outs. But Jack Voigt flied to right.

After Mussina got two quick outs, the Royals threatened to tie the score in the bottom of the inning but Ripken would not allow it to happen with his relay throw.

Macfarlane had given the Royals a 2-1 edge, leading off the second with a home run to left, his eighth of the season and the eighth of his career against the Orioles.

Macfarlane also homered off of Mussina for the only run the Orioles' ace allowed in eight innings on Opening Day, a start that quieted concerns about Mussina's return to form after an injury-riddled second half of 1993 and a spring training in which he posted a 6.75 ERA.

Macfarlane wasn't the only Royal to hit the ball hard, as Mussina watched his outfielders pull down numerous drives on the warning track.

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