Orioles take charge in 7-1 win over K.C. Aggressive style gets extra bases, but triple play, too

Palmeiro, Alomar homer

Wells turns in seven solid innings

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, but 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 (seven innings, five hits, three runs, six strikeouts).

The Orioles had the game well in hand in the seventh, when Alomar singled and moved to third on a single by Palmeiro. Then Bobby Bonilla slashed a grounder toward third; Joe Randa gloved it and stared at Alomar, chasing him back to third, then threw to second. 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 home plate umpire Rick Reed, the first time the Orioles were the victim of a triple play since Aug. 30, 1993. Replay also showed Fasano never tagged Alomar.

"If it was close," Johnson said, "I might've argued more. 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 aggressive 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.

"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."

Johnson's teams have always been aggressive, the New York Mets 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 all the way 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 offline, Palmeiro scored easily.

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

And by a wide margin.

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

Johnson's teams have always been aggressive, the New York Mets with Lenny Dykstra and Mookie Wilson, the Cincinnati Reds with Barry Larkin and Reggie Sanders, and the Orioles with. . . . Palmeiro.

"Even the guys who don't run well, we've got to take the extra base," said Palmeiro. "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 and Bonilla singled home Anderson.

Then Ripken slammed a double into the right-field corner, scoring Palmeiro. B. J. Surhoff pulled a single into right field, and when right fielder Michael Tucker threw home to keep Ripken from scoring, missing the cutoff man, Surhoff alertly took the extra base. (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 the tone was set. Three runs in the first.

Three runs in the second. Jeffrey Hammonds pulled a grounder into the shortstop hole, and his charge down the first-base line may have been the reason that Royals shortstop Jose Offerman threw the ball away.

Or maybe not -- Offerman committed 35 errors last year. On this play, his first of 1996, he launched the ball into the stands for a two-base throwing error. Anderson advanced the runner by pulling a grounder to first base.

Alomar then rammed a high drive to center, over the wall, his first homer in an Oriole 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.

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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