O's take it slow in romp over Tigers Surhoff slam keys 13-6 victory, sweep of hapless Detroit

1st 3 inn. take 2 hours

2 teams' final tally: 375 pitches, 12 walks

June 07, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Had they played on a street corner, they would've been busted for loitering. Had they played in a science lab, they would've been mistaken for a cryogenics experiment. Had they faced off in the 19th century, they would've been contrary evidence to Darwin's theory of evolution.

The Tigers and Orioles, playing baseball -- if playing baseball means standing around and waiting for pitchers to risk life and limb and occasionally raid the strike zone. The original crowd of 46,269 had been dramatically diminished by the time the Orioles completed their 13-6 victory over the Tigers, at 11: 16 p.m., and why not? Fans began pouring out of Camden Yards at 9: 35, when, after two hours, they had seen exactly three innings, 183 ** pitches and 13 runs.

Every Oriole in the starting lineup scored at least one run by the fifth inning. Brady Anderson came up for his fifth plate appearance in the sixth inning. Twenty-seven of the game's first 49 hitters reached base. Every Oriole except Bobby Bonilla drew a walk. The game ended on the 375th pitch of the night.

Dennis Rodman's latest hair color could've grown out in the time it took the Tigers and Orioles to dawdle through last night's game. The Ravens could've won an AFC title and changed their logo. Chris Hoiles' newborn son, Dalton, could've become eligible for the major-league draft.

What actually happened is the Orioles won their fourth straight game, and the Detroit suffered its seventh consecutive defeat, its 19th in its last 20 games, and 39th in its last 44 games. Roberto Alomar extended his hitting streak to a career-high 20 games, collecting two hits and improving his average to .406. B. J. Surhoff hit a grand slam, his second this season and 11th homer of the year. Cal Ripken hit a two-run homer, his ninth of the season.

But offensive heroes were in abundance, and so were pitching goats. Tigers starter Felipe Lira allowed eight runs on six hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings, but was arguably more efficient than Orioles starter Jimmy Haynes.

Staked to a 5-1 lead after the first inning, Haynes needed 78 pitches to register six outs before being yanked one batter into the third inning, the Orioles' lead down to 5-4 and the patience of manager Davey Johnson having been exhausted. At that rate, Haynes would've needed 351 pitches to throw a complete game.

The damage report: Of the 15 batters Haynes faced, he threw four or more pitches to 13; six or more pitches to eight; eight or more pitches to three. He fell behind on the count to 10 of the 15 batters he faced. Haynes had been taking baby steps in his progress, but last night, he fell flat.

As bad as Haynes pitched, the Tigers only led once, 1-0 in the top of the first, because they have their own well-chronicled pitching deficiencies. If the season ended today, Detroit would have earned its title of the worst staff in history.

Lira, the starter, surrendered a two-out walk to Cal Ripken in the first, loading the bases for Surhoff, and then grooved a fastball that Surhoff blasted over the right-field wall. Bobby Bonilla singled to lead off the third inning and Ripken smacked a drive off the left-field foul pole, and after Lira hit Gregg Zaun with one out, Tigers manager Buddy Bell replaced him with Greg Keagle.

The onslaught would not cease. Anderson walked one out later, Luis Polonia singled and Alomar singled, driving home two runs. Rafael Palmeiro walked. Somewhere, a species of fish turned over another generation.

Finally, the third inning ended, on the 183rd pitch, when Bonilla bounced back to the pitcher, and waves of fans headed to the exits and restrooms. Relief at last.

Orioles lefty Rick Krivda, who would be the winning pitcher and improve his record to 2-1, was far more effective than his predecessor Haynes. But Krivda, painstaking and deliberate, walked a couple of Tigers in the fourth with a 9-4 lead, eventually allowing an RBI single to Eddie Williams.

The Orioles aggressively went on the attack again the fifth, strategically using the time-honored method of compiling bases on balls. Polonia walked with one out, Alomar walked, and Palmeiro singled. Bonilla lifted a high pop down the left-field line, and Detroit third baseman Travis Fryman circled and called for the ball before letting it drop; this sort of game would not have been complete without such a gaffe.

Another run scored on the play, and Surhoff then drove in his fifth run with a single. Raul Casanova would homer in the seventh for the Tigers, his second of the game.

FTC But those were just details, in a game that, in less than four hours, summed up Detroit's entire season.

Orioles tonight

Opponent: Chicago White Sox

Site: Oriole Park

Time: 7: 35

TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: White Sox's Alex Fernandez (5-3, 3.68) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (3-4, 4.69

Tickets: 200 remain

Pub Date: 6/07/96

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