Back in May, in Oakland, Orioles first baseman Rafael Palmeiro and pitcher Kevin Brown and Athletics right fielder Ruben Sierra, all former Texas Rangers, talked about how sweet it would be to make the AL All-Star team this year.
Next week's game is in Arlington, Texas. How great that would be to play there, they agreed, the inherent inference being that the Rangers made three mistakes. Not one of the three is going, however; Palmeiro, because he happens to play a position crowded with All-Star candidates.
But the night after he was left off the All-Star team, Palmeiro hit two homers, including a two-run shot in the seventh that broke a 4-4 tie. The Orioles piled on three runs in the eighth, beating the Twins, 9-4.
Brady Anderson stole second in the fifth inning, extending his AL record of 36 straight stolen-base attempts without being caught. But two pitches later, Anderson was gunned down at third by Minnesota's Matt Walbeck, ending Anderson's streak -- the first time Anderson had been caught since May 13, 1994. The catcher that night: Matt Walbeck.
Mike Mussina surrendered a 3-0 lead, but pitched effectively enough to pick up his eighth win and the Orioles' 10th in their last 15.
The All-Star dreams of the ex-Texas trio fell apart because of injury, anger and circumstance: Brown had the tip of his index finger dislocated, Sierra is feuding with his manager, Tony La Russa, and Palmeiro -- well, he's just unlucky enough to play the same position as Frank Thomas, Mark McGwire and Mo Vaughn.
When AL manager Buck Showalter was in Baltimore two weeks ago, he acknowledged that he had a tough decision to make. What, he asked rhetorically, about their guy, referring to Palmeiro.
In the end, he took three first basemen. Palmeiro, with 13 homers and 44 RBIs through Sunday's game, was left out.
He took out his revenge on the Twins. When Palmeiro came to bat in the seventh, with the score tied at 4, he had already homered. With Curtis Goodwin on first and two outs, Palmeiro blasted a two-run shot over the right-field scoreboard.
After Palmeiro's opposite-field shot gave the Orioles a 1-0 lead in the first, they added more in the third. Chris Hoiles singled to left, and Goodwin hit what appeared to be a possible double-play ball up the middle, within reach of Twins shortstop Pat Meares. Either Meares was screened by second base umpire Larry McCoy, or he just reacted poorly, because the bouncer got past him. Hoiles stopped at second on Goodwin's hit.
Anderson flied to center, deep enough for Hoiles to move to third. Goodwin stole second, and then Manny Alexander -- the hero of Sunday's comeback victory over the Blue Jays -- pulled a broken-bat grounder down the third base line. Twins third baseman Scott Stahoviak went down as he tried to backhand the ball, like a hockey goalie, but he couldn't keep it from rolling into left field. Hoiles and Goodwin scored, Alexander's 11th and 12th RBIs in the Orioles' last eight games.
Alexander had gone to second when Twins left fielder Marty Cordova mistakenly tried to throw out Goodwin at home, and he stole third. But with the infield in, Palmeiro hit a weak grounder to second, and Alexander had to hold his ground. Cal Ripken grounded out, ending the inning.
A three-run lead with Mussina pitching is normally a sure thing. Normally. Last night, the Twins overcame the three-run deficit, taking a lead. Kirby Puckett singled, and Marty Cordova hammered a two-run homer to left, the 17th home run allowed by Mussina this year. Stahoviak singled and Scott Leius blooped a double to right.
Stahoviak scored when Dan Mestaller grounded to second, Leius advancing to third. The Orioles held off the tying run momentarily when Meares grounded to third with the infield in -- but Mussina hurt himself by walking Walbeck, who started last night's game hitting .231.
Walbeck, with no stolen bases this season, broke for second with Chuck Knoblauch hitting, and as Hoiles threw high, Leius raced home. Walbeck was safe at second, with his first steal of the year; it was the second steal of '95 for Leius. The Twins led 4-3.
Minnesota starting pitcher Kevin Tapani, who would walk a career-high six, walked Ripken and Harold Baines to open the sixth.
Kevin Bass hit a bloop single to center to load the bases (center fielder Rich Becker was fooled for an instant, his recovery too slow for him to make a play).
But Orioles third baseman Jeff Huson hurt any chance of a big inning by hitting into a 4-6-3 double play, with Ripken scoring the tying run on the play.
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Time: 5:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Twins' Scott Erickson (3-6, 6.44) vs. Orioles' Scott Klingenbeck (2-1, 4.97)
Tickets: 8,600 remain