O's half-happy with split Team doesn't celebrate or sulk after 2-2 series with leaders

July 01, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

NEW YORK -- The Orioles would have loved a sweep. Three out of four would've been great. But as it turns out, splitting a four-game series against the Yankees in the Bronx isn't the worst thing in the world.

Not as far as the Orioles are concerned.

The team wasn't exactly chipper after taking the fourth game of the series yesterday afternoon and earning the split. But they weren't sulking either.

"Coming in and winning two of four is just OK," manager Davey Johnson said. "We needed to win three of four. But that's OK. It's a long season."

The mood at Yankee Stadium was festive and September-like throughout the series. Off the field, players on both teams would talk about how there were many games left, but on the field emotions were high.

The Orioles are again 4 1/2 games behind first-place New York. The standings haven't changed. However, the Orioles came into the series off a tough loss to the Texas Rangers and they're leaving on a high after David Wells' complete-game victory and a nine-run attack.

"We have been very inconsistent as a team," center fielder Brady Anderson said. "We need to put together a few more streaks like we did at the beginning of the season. That makes teams that win pennants. Two or three streaks where you go out and win 10 or 15 games."

The Orioles now know what it's like to play and beat the Yankees, too. New York swept a two-game set at Camden Yards two months ago, but much has changed since then.

Yankees ace David Cone went down, but Dwight Gooden returned to prominence. Cal Ripken was in a month-long slump the last time the Orioles and Yankees played, but now he's on pace for a career year.

And the Orioles and Yankees still play seven more times this year, including a four-game series at Camden Yards right after the All-Star break.

"You pick up a lot of little things by playing a team," second baseman Roberto Alomar said. "Now they know what we're capable of doing and we know what they're capable of doing. I think we both have really good ballclubs. We have to keep playing good baseball to stay with them."

Johnson said his bullpen is stronger now than at any other time this year, with Jimmy Haynes stepping up in long relief and Arthur Rhodes (9-0), Roger McDowell (2.84 ERA) and closer Randy Myers being consistent all year.

Although Mike Mussina wasn't overpowering on Saturday, Johnson said recent outings by Wells, Scott Erickson and Rocky Coppinger have reaffirmed his faith in the pitching staff.

And the bats came alive.

Bobby Bonilla went 6-for-17 with a home run and four RBIs in the series despite constant taunting from the fans. Rafael Palmeiro went 5-for-15 with two homers and six RBIs. Cal Ripken finished the series 7-for-18 with three RBIs.

"It's good we came out of here 2-and-2," Alomar said. "I'm really pleased we went 2-and-2 instead of 0-and-4. This was a great series for both teams."

Pub Date: 7/01/96

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