Sabo drops ball, then Twins, 11-6

June 19, 1994|By Tom Keegan | Tom Keegan,Sun Staff Writer

Chris Sabo reinforced two points in one game last night.

First, he will not win a Gold Glove in the outfield in this or any season. Second, the Orioles are a better team with his bat at the top of the order than with it on the bench.

The positive influence of Sabo's bat played a much bigger part than the harmful effects of his glove as the Orioles defeated the Minnesota Twins, 11-6, last night before a Camden Yards sellout crowd of 47,426, including NBC comedian Jerry Seinfeld.

Sabo's two-run, seventh-inning single broke open a one-run game and provided more evidence of why the Orioles can live with Sabo's inexperience in the outfield in return for his productive bat in the No. 2 hole of the lineup.

Sabo, who has started the Orioles' last nine games in the outfield, had a pair of singles in four at-bats, improving his two-night totals against the Twins to 5-for-8 with four RBIs.

"The numbers will tell you what he has done for us up there, but more than that, there is just a feeling in the clubhouse and the dugout," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "The players are confident that he will get the job done and create some offense and he has done that."

He committed a two-base error last night when he dropped a shallow fly ball and he failed in a leaping attempt to catch another ball that went for a triple off the wall.

During his seventh-inning at-bat, Sabo crushed two long foul balls, then straightened one out for a line single to left.

Not all of the Orioles' long balls were foul.

Chris Hoiles hit his 10th home run, with two on in the second. Tim Hulett (2-for-3 with a double and three RBIs) hit his second, with one on in the fifth, and Cal Ripken hit his eighth, with one on in the seventh.

The Orioles produced 20 runs and 26 hits in the first two games of a series that concludes today against the Twins.

"We've put a couple of good nights together and that's good to see after the Yankees series," Hulett said. "This team has a lot of talent. There are going to be times when we don't play well, but overall we've been a pretty consistent club."

Sid Fernandez (4-4) earned the win, allowing four runs and five hits (three home runs) in six-plus innings on the mound.

"I didn't feel like I had a whole lot tonight," Fernandez said. "But I got the most out of what I had. That's a good hitting team right there. Not one of the teams you want to face without your best stuff."

The Orioles' four-run seventh delivered by Sabo and Ripken gave the Orioles a 9-4 lead that was trimmed when the Twins ended Mark Eichhorn's consecutive scoreless innings streak at 22. Relieving Eichhorn, left-hander Jim Poole induced an inning-ending double play from pinch hitter Scott Leius, who represented the tying run with the Orioles leading 9-6.

With their third win in four games, the Orioles remained two games behind the first-place Yankees in the American League East. Meanwhile, the Twins fell 3 1/2 games behind the Cleveland Indians in the AL Central.

Not to be forgotten, the Orioles moved a game ahead of the Twins in the all-important wild-card race.

Jeffrey Hammonds returned to the starting lineup for the first time since May 3. He was in left, where there is more ground to cover, rather than right because of Sabo's presence in the lineup.

Batting from the eighth spot, Hammonds walked, singled, scored two runs and struck out twice. In the field, he made an unsuccessful attempt at catching Derek Parks' third-inning home run that sneaked over the left-field fence. Hammonds' back brushed the wall, limiting his leap.

The Twins' other two home runs were out of reach.

With Fernandez and Jim Deshaies of the Twins on the mound, there stood a great chance of it being a big night for home runs. It was.

Fernandez allowed three home runs, Deshaies two, inflating their combined total for the season to 38.

Hoiles, hotter than a Baltimore summer of late, gave the Orioles a 3-1 lead in the second inning.

Ripken led off the inning with a single to center and advanced to second on Leo Gomez's single to left.

Hoiles then drove a 2-2 pitch from Deshaies to right for his 10th home run, continuing a hot homestand.

Hoiles had gone 6-for-12 with three RBIs in the four games leading into last night's. Hulett's two-run home run in the fifth put Deshaies behind 5-2 and made the pitcher's AL home run lead safe.

Deshaies (3-7), who allowed five earned runs on six hits in 4 2/3 innings last night, has served 21 home runs in 81 innings.

Fernandez, a fly-ball pitcher, has discovered the bane of working in the American League after 10 seasons in the National League: shorter fences, a lineup that doesn't feature a pitcher, and an abundance of young power hitters.

The combination has resulted in higher home run totals for Fernandez, who has allowed 17 home runs in 81 innings.

No. 15 came off the bat of the first hitter he faced. Twins leadoff hitter Chuck Knoblauch drilled Fernandez's 0-and-2 offering over the left-field fence for his fourth home run.

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