As usual, Cal Ripken is the Ripken dominating the headlines, for his proposed move to third base and his subsequent hitting tear. But Bill Ripken has gotten his fair share of big hits lately, too.
Bill Ripken, nearly forced out of the starting lineup last night by back pain, had three hits and two RBIs and Cal drove in the lead run in the bottom of the eighth last night, as the Orioles beat the visiting Detroit Tigers, 6-4, and moved to within a game of first-place New York in the AL East.
And Roberto Alomar's assault on historical standards continued: He had two hits in three at-bats, including his ninth homer, pushing his average to .405.
He extended his hitting streak to 19 straight games, matching his career high, set last year.
Alomar is on a pace to compile 261 hits, which would break the major-league record of 257, set by another Oriole descendant -- George Sisler of the St. Louis Browns, in 1920.
Alomar could go hitless in his next 75 at-bats and still be hitting .300.
"I thought he was the best player in the American League the first time I saw him," said Tigers manager Buddy Bell. "Now he might be the best player in baseball."
Alomar's run-scoring single gave the Orioles a 4-1 lead in the bottom of the fifth, but in the sixth, Detroit tied the score with three runs against former Tiger David Wells.
The Orioles nearly took the lead in the seventh, which ended with Alomar striking out with runners on first and third against Detroit's Mike Myers.
But Rafael Palmeiro singled over shortstop to lead off the eighth. Tigers third baseman Travis Fryman leaped to spear a line drive by Bobby Bonilla, and then almost doubled off Palmeiro at first. Ex-Oriole Richie Lewis relieved Myers to pitch to Cal Ripken, right-handed pitcher against right-handed hitter, and Ripken ran the count to 3-1.
Palmeiro broke on the 3-1 pitch, Ripken flailing at it to distract catcher John Flaherty, and Palmeiro slid into second with his fourth steal. It became a big play, when Ripken rolled a single to center. After a fielder's choice and a hit batsmen, Bill Ripken -- who already had a homer and a single -- hit a broken-bat blooper to center, scoring B.J. Surhoff with the Orioles' sixth run and ensuring Arthur Rhodes' sixth victory, in relief of Wells.
Bill Ripken, Orioles manager Davey Johnson said, "has done great. He's played outstanding, offensively and defensively."
Ripken took over at third after Surhoff was injured. But even with Surhoff back in the lineup, Johnson is sticking with Ripken, riding out Ripken's hot streak.
"I've been riding it pretty good," Johnson said. "He's probably feeling spurs in his back."
In an odd sort of way, the Ripken brothers have helped each other: Bill's strong play was one reason why Johnson didn't move Cal to third, and the fact that Cal has gone on a tear has allowed Bill to stay at third.
"It ended up good for me," Bill Ripken said. "It he had moved on, I wouldn't have had any playing time."
If not for the Ripken brothers, the Orioles wouldn't have won their third straight game, one started by Wells and finished by Randy Myers.
The Tigers managed only one hit over the first three innings, and when they had runners at second and third with one out in the third, Wells bore down and got the big outs. He struck out Chad Curtis, and retired Mark Lewis on a lazy fly ball to right.
That bought time for the Orioles to chip away at Detroit's Omar Oliveras, who pitched surprisingly well in the early innings. The Orioles didn't have a hit against the right-hander when Bill Ripken batted with one out in the bottom of the third, but Ripken turned on a first-pitch fastball -- above all else, he loves to see first pitch fastballs -- and smashed a line drive into the left-field stands, his second homer of the season. Ripken never stopped running on his way around the bases, the home-run trot of a hitter more prone to doubles and singles.
Alomar assumed a much more stylish approach around the bases in the fourth inning.
Oliveras had worked carefully to Alomar in the first inning, walking the Orioles' second baseman. He was more aggressive when Alomar led off the third inning, throwing a first-pitch strike and coming back with a high fastball. A mistake.
Alomar swung and hit the ball squarely; Oliveras turned to follow the flight of the ball, Tigers center fielder Kimera Bartee broke back toward the center-field wall on a run, and the 43,087 in attendance rose hopefully.
The Tigers scored a run in the fifth, but the Orioles countered with two of their own. Chris Hoiles beat out an infield single, Bill Ripken lined a single between shortstop Chris Gomez and third baseman Travis Fryman, and they would subsequently score on a double-play groundout and a two-out single by Alomar.
In 12 straight starts at third, Ripken hasn't committed an error, and with his two hits last night, he's hitting .326 (15-for-46 plus tonight) with nine extra-base hits since taking over for Surhoff).
But Wells crumbled in the sixth inning, the Tigers putting together a walk and three straight hits before there were any outs. Back-to-back fly balls to the warning track in left allowed Cecil Fielder to tag up and advance from second to third, and then from third to home, tying the score at 4-all.
Pub Date: 6/06/96
Opponent: Detroit Tigers
Site: Oriole Park
Time: 7: 35
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Tigers' Felipe Lira (3-4, 6.40) vs. Orioles' Jimmy Haynes (2-5, 8.06)
Tickets: 2,700 remain