Orioles take charge against Royals, 7-1 Bold, brash style runs for extra bases, but into triple play, too

Alomar, Palmeiro homer

New aggressiveness is stamp of Johnson

April 04, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Manager Davey Johnson preached aggressiveness in the first full-squad workout in February, but this was no idle spring training refrain. The Orioles are running hard, taking chances and creating opportunity.

The Orioles barreled around the bases last night and blitzed the Royals, 7-1, before 40,068 at Camden Yards, and the Orioles' aggressiveness cost them some style points: They ran into a triple play in the sixth inning.

Roberto Alomar and Rafael Palmeiro hit back-to-back homers in the second inning and Cal Ripken and Bobby Bonilla had RBI hits, strong support for starter David Wells, who pitched seven innings.

The Orioles had the game well in hand in the seventh, when Alomar singled and moved to third on a single by Palmeiro.

Bobby Bonilla slashed a grounder toward third, and Joe Randa gloved the ball and stared at Alomar, freezing the runner, then threw to second. Royals second baseman Bip Roberts forced out Palmeiro at second and threw to first to nip Bonilla -- although TV replays showed Bonilla might have been safe.

As Roberts threw to first, Alomar broke from third. First baseman Bob Hamelin fired home to catcher Sal Fasano, who planted his left foot in front of the plate. Alomar beat the throw, but reaching around Fasano's foot, he never touched home, and was called out by plate umpire Rick Reed. It was the first triple play against the Orioles since Aug. 30, 1993.

Replay also showed Fasano never tagged Alomar. "If [the score] was close, I might've argued more," Johnson said. "I'm still not sure he touched him."

Kansas City manager Bob Boone recognized the style of play. He worked as a coach for Johnson in Cincinnati and was intrigued by how aggressively the Reds played. Overly aggressive, sometimes -- they either made the other team look stupid or, occasionally, looked really dumb themselves, getting thrown out by yards.

Johnson is managing the Orioles now, a team with significantly less speed. But, as Boone noted before last night's game, this hasn't affected the way Johnson wants his team to play: Make the opponents throw the ball and catch the ball.

"Davey's teams are all like that," said pitching coach Pat Dobson. "They're going to force you to execute fundamentally. If you don't, they'll kill you."

The New York Mets, the first team Johnson managed, charged with Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson, the Cincinnati Reds with Barry Larkin and Reggie Sanders, and the Orioles with. . . . Palmeiro.

The Orioles first baseman scored from first base on a bloop single on Opening Day. Running with the pitch, he neared third just as center fielder Johnny Damon prepared to throw from short center field. With two outs, third base coach Sam Perlozzo waved Palmeiro home, and when Damon's throw was off line, Palmeiro scored easily.

L "If we make any kind of a good relay, he's out," Boone said.

And by a wide margin. "But that's what Davey does," Boone said. ". . . .He wants his team to be aggressive, and prods his third base coach to send the man in that situation."

Veteran Orioles see the difference in style, and substance.

Said Palmeiro: "Even the guys who don't run well, we've got to take the extra base. Last year we lost a lot of games by one run, and we never took the extra base, and that cost us."

They ran hard last night, and hit Kansas City starter Mark Gubicza harder. Brady Anderson singled, stole second, and Alomar moved up the runner with a sacrifice, bunting the ball past the pitcher and nearly beating the throw to first. Palmeiro walked, Bonilla singled to score Anderson.

Ripken doubled home Palmeiro, Surhoff singled home Bonilla, and took an extra base when the throw from right fielder Michael Tucker sailed home. (Johnson was so adamant in encouraging aggressive base running, that he said in spring training that if a player failed to move up in that situation, he would consider it a mental mistake).

Gubicza got out of the inning without further damage, but Orioles had set the tone. Three runs in the first.

Three runs in the second. A throwing error by Royals shortstop Jose Offerman allowed Jeffrey Hammonds to reach second and Anderson advanced the runner with a grounder, Alomar rammed a high drive to center, over the wall, his first homer in an Orioles uniform and the 500th and 501st RBI of his career.

Palmeiro, next up, mashed a shot even higher and deeper than Alomar's, over the scoreboard in right, over the flag court; the ball bounced off the top of the gate, ricocheting back toward the stands.

Aggressiveness. "Offensively, that's the difference on this team," said catcher Chris Hoiles. "At the plate, we've got guys who get a bat in their hands and they go up there and they do something with it. We've got a lot of guys who run well from first to third, speed at the top and bottom of the order.

"We've got guys who go up there with a great eye and make them throw strikes. There isn't a hole in the lineup."

Not one that the Royals have exposed in the first two days of the season, anyway. "I think we have the ability. . . ." Hoiles began to say, but pitcher Alan Mills, dressing nearby, cut him off and finished his sentence.

". . . .To win 162 games," Mills said, and they laughed together. Doubtful. But so far so good.

Orioles today

Opponent: K.C. Royals

Site: Oriole Park

Time: 3: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Royals' Chris Haney (3-4, 3.65 in 1995) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (13-10, 4.81 in 1995)

Tickets: 8,000 available.

Pub Date: 4/04/96

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