Homer-thon is memory, but not a distant one

SIDELIGHT

July 03, 1994|By Jim Henneman | Jim Henneman,Sun Staff Writer

There was no power shortage at Camden Yards on Friday night, and it still was the main topic of conversation almost 24 hours later.

The Orioles (six) and California Angels (five) combined for 11 home runs, setting three ballpark records and matching a major-league mark that was reached for the eighth time. At least one home run was hit in each of the first seven innings and the total distance for the 11 homers was the equivalent of eight-tenths of a mile -- 4,105 feet.

Amazingly, in a year when baseballs have been flying record distances in record numbers, none of the home runs carried as far as 400 feet. At least none did according to the IBM Tale of the Tape, which is used in every big-league park.

"They said none of them traveled 400 feet," said disbelieving Orioles left fielder Brady Anderson, who had the best vantage point for three of the Angels' five home runs. "But the ball that [Tim] Salmon hit [a fifth-inning shot measured at 373 feet] had to go at least that far."

Although it appeared obvious that the ball was carrying better than it ever had at Camden Yards, Anderson was among those who didn't feel the conditions had that much effect. "I thought they all had a chance to be home runs when they were hit," he said of the Angels' five drives.

Others were more skeptical, noting how far some of the seemingly routine outs carried. The Orioles' Chris Hoiles hit a low-and-inside pitch off the label of his bat that Chad Curtis had to reach over the center-field fence to catch -- preventing a major-league record. And there were a few fly balls that sounded ordinary, but still carried to the warning track.

"I'm just glad I got out of there without getting hurt physically, the way the ball was flying," said Mike Mussina. The right-hander had the somewhat dubious distinction of claiming his 12th win despite allowing all five of the Angels' home runs in only five innings.

"Sometimes you pitch well enough to win and you lose," he said. "And other times you pitch bad and win. I don't feel like this makes up for any other outings.

"I made good pitches that they hit out and I made mistakes that they hit for a double play."

Others had a different perspective. "That [win] was a payback for all the times he pitched with the game on the line every time he cocked his arm," said Orioles manager Johnny Oates.

On the California side, Jim Edmonds, the last to connect off Mussina, lamented a missed opportunity. "Any time a guy like that goes out there without his best stuff, you try not to let him off the hook," said the Angels left fielder, who watched three home runs soar over his head. "When he [Mussina] has his best stuff, you're not going to score more than one or two runs off him."

Having played against Mussina, and now getting a firsthand look as his teammate, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro can appreciate Edmonds' appraisal. "That's the bad game he's going to have this year," said Palmeiro, who hit the first of the Orioles' six home runs. "That's the one, and he still got the win."

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