Camden crushers only lack name 130 HRs put Orioles on record-setting pace

July 05, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

Maybe it's about time these guys got a nickname.

The Orioles are on pace to set a record for the most home runs hit by one team in a season, but they lack what so many other power-hitting teams of the past had.

The New York Yankees of the 1930s were Murderers' Row. The 1970s Cincinnati Reds were the Big Red Machine. The Oakland Athletics of Mark McGwire and Jose Canseco were the Bash Brothers.

So, is it time for the hometown guys crushing the ball at Camden Yards to acquire a witty name of their own?

"No, not yet," said Brady Anderson, who is leading the charge with a major-league-best 29 homers. "We haven't won anything yet."

The world champion 1961 Yankees set the standard for home run prowess with 240. The Orioles already have 130 homers this year.

Four teams have had six players hit 20 or more homers in a season. It last happened in 1986 when Darnell Coles of the Detroit Tigers ended a 43 at-bat homerless slump by going deep on the last day of the season at Memorial Stadium in Earl Weaver's last game as Orioles manager.

This season the Orioles could get revenge. They already have seven players with 10 or more homers, all of whom on pace to break the 20-homer plateau.

Said Mike Devereaux said when told of his team's accomplishments, "There's no doubt that's some history right there."

Catcher Chris Hoiles, who has 11 home runs, was inspired to toss out some nickname suggestions of his own when he found out about the historical significance.

"The winners," Hoiles said. "That's all we need. Maybe the Yardbirds? I don't know. As long as I'm in the 20-home run club I don't care what they call us."

But the Orioles aren't even the heaviest hitters in the American League. The A's, with a virtually anonymous cast besides McGwire, have 132 homers. The Seattle Mariners are right there too, with 127 home runs.

No one can keep up with the Orioles lately. They have homered in 14 of the past 16 games, and have 28 homers overall in that stretch. They have 15 home runs in their past seven games.

Orioles hitting coach Rick Down said the smaller ballparks of today, particularly Camden Yards, are partly responsible for the home run spurt.

"This is a much fairer ballpark in the extent that if you hit it well to left or to right, it has a chance to go out," Down said. "We've got some pretty strong guys here. One through nine as far as power and damage, this team is probably right there with anyone else."

Most of the sluggers are producing better than expected. Cal Ripken hit his 17th of the year in yesterday's 8-6 win over the Boston Red Sox. Rafael Palmeiro has 21 homers. And Bobby Bonilla is getting hot, finally reaching double digits in homers.

Lesser weights such as B. J. Surhoff and Roberto Alomar are chipping in, too. Surhoff's career high for home runs is 13, yet he has 12 already this year. Alomar has 11 and his career high is 17. Yesterday everyone got in the act, with Devereaux hitting his fourth of the year and Luis Polonia hitting his second.

"My four homers are just rolling this team," Devereaux said with a laugh. "I'm picking up the slack big-time. We need everybody popping, unless somebody's going to hit 70 or 80. Hey, you never know with Brady. I'm not the guy to decide the nickname. I only have four."

Pub Date: 7/05/96

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