To Alomar, streak is piece of work 2-for-4 game sends him to tape room to check swing

Sidelight

June 09, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

After yesterday's 2-1 loss, Orioles second baseman Roberto Alomar went straight from the clubhouse to a room where players can watch tapes of their at-bats.

He'd just gone 2-for-4, extending his hitting streak to 22 games, the longest in the majors this year, and raising his average to .410, the highest it's been since the first week of the season.

It didn't matter. There was still work to be done.

Alomar wanted to look at his swing, check the location of pitches and see if there was anything he'd done wrong.

"I do that a lot," Alomar said. "Sometimes, but not all the time. I just want to know where the pitches were when I get a hit."

Not a bad routine. Watch some tape. Get a hit.

But Alomar has a lot more going for him than a VCR. Hitting coach Rick Down can rattle off a list of Alomar's assets in rapid-fire succession, each of which makes him a candidate to maintain his current pace at the plate.

"He's a switch-hitter," Down said. "He has speed, the ability to handle the bat and he's a contact hitter with the ability to get a base on balls. He's a great bunter, and he has a good idea of the strike zone. Anybody that has those attributes is not going to be an easy out."

Alomar has been the toughest out in the majors this year. He has hit in 25 of the past 26 games. He's batting .476 (40-for-84) during the 22-game streak, with six homers and 25 RBIs. With runners in scoring position during the streak, his average is .533 (16-for-30).

During the streak, Alomar has hit safely in his first or second at-bat 17 times. He has at least two hits in each of the past six games.

He's virtually the only Oriole to get to the Chicago White Sox in the first two games of the three-game series. Alomar is 4-for-8. He has scored two of the three Orioles runs this series, and driven in two as well.

"You could talk about Roberto Alomar after every game this year," manager Davey Johnson said. "I've run out of superlatives for him."

Rick Down hasn't.

Down raves about Alomar's ability to work a count and hit with two strikes. Down said Alomar sometimes looks even more comfortable hitting with two strikes, having seen most of the pitcher's stuff. Alomar has no problem shortening his swing to punch the ball the other way or turning on an inside pitch.

If he kept up this pace, Alomar would break Joe DiMaggio's 55-year-old record of 56 consecutive games with a hit in Baltimore in a mid-July series against his former teammates, the Toronto Blue Jays. A long way off to be sure.

And, no one has hit .400 for an entire season since Ted Williams batted .406 in 1941. But none of that seems to matter to Alomar right now.

He shies away from talk of a historic season. He's just following his routine, same as always.

"I like to relax [at the plate]," Alomar said. "I've started hitting better when I take the first strike. Sometimes I get too aggressive and I jump to the ball. So I'm just taking strikes so I can see location, see the pitch and see how hard he's throwing. I'm just going out there and hitting the ball where it's pitched."

And putting in overtime in the video room.

Alomar's streak

Since his last hitless game on May 11 left his batting average at .371, Roberto Alomar has raised his average 39 points during his 22-game hitting streak:

Date .. ..Opp. .. ..AB .. ..H .. .. ..Avg.

5/12 .. ..Mil. .. ...3 .. ..1.. .. .. .370

5/13 .. ..Oak. .. ...3 .. ..2.. .. .. .376

5/14 .. ..Oak. .. ...2 .. ..1.. .. .. .377

5/17 .. ..Sea. .. ...4 .. ..3.. .. .. .387

5/18 .. ..Sea... ....5 .. ..1.. .. .. .381

5/19 .. ..Sea. . ....4 .. ..2. .. ... .384

5/20 .. ..Cal. .. ...3 .. ..2.. .. .. .389

5/21 .. ..Cal. .. ...4 .. ..1.. .. .. .386

5/22 .. ..Cal. .. ...4 .. ..4.. .. .. .400

5/24 .. ..Oak. .. ...5 .. ..2.. .. .. .400

5/25 .. ..Oak. .. ...4 .. ..2.. .. .. .402

5/26 .. ..Oak. .. ...3 .. ..1.. .. .. .401

5/28 .. ..Sea. .. ...3 .. ..1.. .. .. .400

5/29 .. ..Sea. .. ...5 .. ..2.. .. .. .400

5/31 .. ..Cal. .. ...4 .. ..1.. .. .. .397

6/1 .. ...Cal. .. ...4 .. ..1.. .. .. .394

6/2 .. ...Cal. .. ...5 .. ..3.. .. .. .399

6/4 .. ...Det. .. ...4 .. ..2.. .. .. .401

6/5 .. ...Det... ....3 .. ..2.. .. .. .405

6/6 .. ...Det. .. ...4 .. ..2. .. ... .406

6/7 .. ...Chi. .. ...4 .. ..2.. .. .. .408

6/8 .. ...Chi. .. ...4 .. ..2.. .. .. .410

Streak totals .. ...84 .. .40.. .. . .476

Note: During the streak, Alomar's first hit has come 11 times on his first at-bat, six times on his second at-bat, twice on his third at-bat, twice on his fourth at-bat and once on his fifth at-bat.

Pub Date: 6/09/96

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