Goodwin gets O's started again for fourth win in row

June 04, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,Sun Staff Writer

He has the speed and facial features of Otis Nixon, the pencil mustache and style of Cab Calloway. There's one other aspect of Orioles rookie center fielder Curtis Goodwin, though, that makes him a perfect carbon copy of one Rickey Henderson.

The man does not lack for confidence.

The big leagues to Curtis Goodwin, after two days, is getting a couple of hits a day, stealing a base, starting a couple of rallies. He did that again yesterday at Camden Yards, in the Orioles' 9-5 victory over the Athletics, their fourth straight win.

Cal Ripken hit a grand slam, one of three Orioles homers in the fifth inning, and Mike Mussina pitched well with a big lead and picked up his fourth win of the year.

Afterward, Goodwin was reminded of a prediction he made during spring training. He said in early April he could steal between 80 and 100 bases in a 144-game season, and yesterday he was asked for a revised figure, what with 110 games left in the 1995 season.

"If I'm up here that long," said Goodwin, "I'll get at least one a game. If I get one a game, that's 110."

If he's stealing a base a day, he'll be up here that long.

Somebody told right fielder Jeffrey Hammonds, who knows something about expectations, of Goodwin's updated figure, and Hammonds replied, "All power to him."

All power, and speed, to the Orioles, in the first two days of the Curtis Goodwin Era. He is doing exactly what manager Phil Regan said he could do, jump-start the Orioles' offense.

"He looks really good," said Hammonds. "I pray I can say the same exact thing in October, because if I do, our season will be far from over."

The implication being, of course, that if Goodwin continues to produce -- and assuming he steals 110 bases, he's going to produce -- the Orioles will be a much better team than they were in the first month of the season.

He singled in his first major-league at-bat Friday and scored the Orioles' first run. His sacrifice bunt advanced what turned out to be the winning run in the eighth inning of that game.

No sense in stopping there: Goodwin opened yesterday's game by popping a bunt past Oakland starting pitcher Mike Harkey, too far in front of second baseman Brent Gates for him to make a play, too far to the right of first baseman Mark McGwire for him to have a chance.

Goodwin stole second on a 1-1 count to Brady Anderson, and Harkey, distracted, walked Anderson.

Goodwin and Anderson then scored on a double by Rafael Palmeiro. Two runs, just like that, with one hit out of the infield.

Leading off the fifth, Goodwin popped a single into short center, and it started all over again, Harkey glancing nervously over his shoulder at first, stepping off, pitching out, consumed with the task of keeping Goodwin from swiping second again.

Goodwin didn't run, and Harkey couldn't throw Anderson a strike. A walk put runners at first and second, and Harkey began fretting over Goodwin again. Looking back, looking back. He walked Palmeiro to load the bases. Still nobody out.

Harkey could do nothing else then except go right after clean-up hitter Ripken, challenge him with fastballs -- and Ripken slammed a line-drive homer into the left-field stands, the fourth grand slam of his career.

The crowd of 45,056 called for Ripken to step out of the dugout and acknowledge their cheers, and he did with a wave of his helmet. They might have called for Goodwin, too, who had harried Harkey into the awful inning.

"I think he's probably going to distract a lot of pitchers," said Regan. "When he gets on second base, you have to keep him close on second base. You have to pay attention to him."

Two batters after Ripken, Hammonds hammered a homer into the Orioles' bullpen in left-center field, and two batters after that, Jeff Manto homered, his fourth since taking over third base from Leo Gomez.

Six runs in the inning, biggest one-inning outburst by the Orioles this season. In his first two days in the majors, Goodwin played a major role in four of the five run-scoring rallies.

Quite a first impression, about as well as a rookie could hope for -- unless the rookie doesn't hope for success as much as he expects it, as Goodwin does.

Goodwin: "It's not luck. I'm going to try to do that every night."

Kevin Bass laughed when told of Goodwin's comments, and noted that Goodwin is from California, the Oakland area. "They've got very confident young athletes there," Bass said. "That's just the way it is. He's one who is always going to be confident."

Confident. Exciting.

A little like Otis Nixon, and Cab Calloway. A lot like Rickey Henderson, oozing energy.

Ripken said, "Let's try not to put too much pressure on Curtis."

Pressure?

Right now, pressure to Curtis Goodwin would be two steals a game. Or 220 the rest of the season. If he's up here that long.

ORIOLES TONIGHT

Opponent: Oakland Athletics

Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards

Time: 8:05

TV/Radio: ESPN/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Athletics' Dave Stewart (2-4, 7.52) vs. Orioles' Sid Fernandez (0-2, 8.35)

Tickets: 11,400 remain

THE RIPKEN YEARS

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