Canseco finds swing in Baltimore

June 26, 1995|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,Contributing Writer

The sleeping giant has awakened.

Jose Canseco returned to his MVP-like form this weekend by breaking out of an 0-for-28 slump, and helping the Boston Red Sox split their four-game series at Oriole Park.

The slugger got back on track Friday by singling in the ninth inning off Doug Jones, and stole a base en route to the go-ahead run in the ninth Saturday, but he waited until yesterday to really strut his stuff.

Canseco's 429-foot blast to the left-field stands accounted for Boston's only run in a 10-1 defeat.

"I'm getting there," Canseco said. "It's just a matter of time before I can consistently hit the long ball. I'm the type of hitter where I can get locked in to my swing and really do some damage."

The homer caught the attention of Orioles starter Arthur Rhodes, who yielded only six hits. Rhodes pivoted from the mound to watch the ball land in the seats.

"If you're going to give them up, then you've got to give them up," Rhodes said. "If you throw it hard, they're going to go a long way."

Rhodes was the perfect pitcher for Canseco to hone his home run swing on. The 1988 American League MVP is 4-for-7 lifetime against Rhodes, and three of the four hits have gone over the fence.

In the last two games of the series, Canseco was 3-for-7 with the homer, two doubles, four runs scored, a stolen base and two RBIs -- his best weekend of the season.

On May 15, Canseco pulled a groin muscle in his right leg stealing a base at Yankee Stadium and was out for more than a month. Before returning to the big leagues, he made two appearances at Triple-A Pawtucket, including an 0-for-3, three-strikeout performance against Orioles farmhand Rick Krivda.

Canseco is still only batting .210 for the year, with two home runs and 11 RBIs. Yesterday's homer was his first since April 30 in Chicago.

One man who is especially glad to see the old Canseco back is Mo Vaughn, who hits in front of him.

"Any time you can get somebody like that going, it makes things a lot easier for myself," Vaughn said. "I was not hitting well in key situations [while Canseco was slumping]."

So, now the front-running Red Sox return to Boston, to face last-place Toronto and second-place Detroit in Fenway Park, precisely the kind of stadium for a healthy and confident Canseco to continue his torrid hitting.

"The real positive from this road trip was to see Jose swing the bat these last few games," said Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy. "This guy is capable of carrying this ballclub. We really missed him."

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