Vaughn's HR in 9th blasts Orioles, 7-5 2-out, 3-run homer off Myers overcomes Hoiles' go-ahead shot

Anderson hits his 30th

Orioles entered game 37-0 leading after 8

July 08, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

The Orioles' workout at Camden Yards on Wednesday is optional for those who feel the need for practice. What they may require is therapy, after last night's devastating loss to Boston.

The Orioles led 5-4 after homers by Brady Anderson and Chris Hoiles, and it appeared they would go into the All-Star break on a high.

Before the game, manager Davey Johnson patted them on the back in a team meeting, the New York Yankees lost earlier in the day and now it looked as if the Orioles would pick up a game in the standings. Positive reinforcement of the best kind. There were two outs in the ninth and nobody on base and all closer Randy Myers needed was one more out.

He never got it. A walk, a single and then a bomb by Boston slugger Mo Vaughn -- "and it was a bomb," Johnson said later, forlorn -- beat the Orioles, 7-5, silencing 47,532 patrons at Camden Yards and a few dozen Orioles. It was Vaughn's second homer of the game and 26th of the year. Anderson's homer was his 30th.

Before last night, the Orioles were 37-0 when leading after eight innings.

After the game, first baseman Rafael Palmeiro sat and stared into his locker, and several feet away, reliever Jesse Orosco did the same. Only a few players picked at the post-game spread. They are 46-39, two games under .500 since their 11-2 start, and the four-game series against the visiting Yankees that starts Thursday is now of paramount importance. The Orioles are six games out and this will be the last time they play host to New York this year.

"I'm glad the Yankees are coming right in," Johnson said, "and we can get right after them."

The Orioles have three days to prepare, and to try to forget about the awful loss.

On the Fourth of July, Vaughn popped out against Myers to end the game, with the tying runs on base; Johnson said the anxiety of the moment had driven him to his old habit of chewing tobacco.

But, as the ninth inning began last night, Boston down a run, there was little chance Vaughn would bat. Myers had converted 18 of his 21 save chances and the first hitter for Boston was Alex Delgado, pinch-hitting in the eighth spot in the lineup. Vaughn was four hitters away.

Myers dismissed Delgado with a strikeout, retired Lee Tinsley on a fly out. Boston second baseman Jeff Frye, hitting .224, was next. Myers walked him, and later, Johnson would point at this as being the key.

"It's a cardinal sin, a two-out walk to their weakest hitter," Johnson said. "It can come back to sting you, and it did tonight."

Shortstop John Valentin singled past shortstop, Frye stopped at second, and Vaughn would hit. Myers, Vaughn said later, is tough to hit because he doesn't give a hitter anything good to swing at.

Myers threw a ball with the first pitch. He threw a fastball. Vaughn belted it; he stood at home and watched -- like everyone else in the park, he was awed. The ball carried to the last 10 rows of the center-field bleachers, a 457-foot bomb, the second-longest shot in the history of Camden Yards. Oakland's Pedro Munoz hit the longest, 463 feet, on May 25.

Anderson, in center, ran toward the wall. But he said later he knew he had no shot. "It was pretty obvious nobody was going to catch it," Anderson said. "People in center field [in the stands] were lucky to catch it."

More Mo: Vaughn, homerless in 13 games, hit nearly 300 yards worth of homers last night, his first having traveled 417 feet to Eutaw Street. "As long as it's gone," Vaughn said, "it doesn't matter how far it's gone."

"The walk had nothing to do with it," Myers said. "The first two outs weren't easy. I had to be careful with a one-run lead, I had to be careful with every hitter."

Anderson said: "I wouldn't look at it as a game we gave away. I look at it [that] one of the best hitters in baseball took it away."

The Orioles went from one end of the emotional spectrum to the other and back, from certain defeat to a rousing comeback to the ninth-inning collapse.

Scott Erickson started for the Orioles and gave up two runs in the first, on Vaughn's first homer, and two more runs in the sixth, on a leadoff walk and a series of cheap hits, flares over the infield and broken-bat shots and dunkers.

The Orioles trailed 4-1 going into the bottom of the seventh against Boston's Tom Gordon. One out into the inning, Luis Polonia walked and Boston manager Kevin Kennedy walked slowly to the mound to encourage Gordon. Gordon threw the first pitch to Anderson, a hanging slider. Wham. Anderson, who leads the majors in homers, lifted it over the scoreboard in right. The three-run lead was down to one run.

Joe Hudson relieved Mike Stanton for Boston with one out in the eighth, and Mike Devereaux singled. Hoiles took a ball, and he drilled a long shot to right -- the ball barely clearing the wall. When Hoiles got back to the dugout, there was a phone call waiting for him. Alan Mills was calling from the bullpen, and as Hoiles looked out, Mills took off his cap and waved.

Congratulations, pal, you needed that. Life was good. All those first-half distractions, forgotten for the moment. Hoiles' homer would propel the Orioles into three days of rest and relaxation and golf and into the second half, into that big series against the Yankees.

Not.

They've got 72 hours to pick up the pieces.

Thirtysomethings

Players who have hit 30 or more home runs by the All-Star break since 1961:

Year Player .. .. .. .. .. .. ..HRs

1961 Roger Maris, NYY .. .. .. ..33

Har. Killebrew, Min .. .. ..30

1969 Frank Howard, Was .. .. .. .34

Reggie Jackson, Oak .. .. ..37

1969 Willie McCovey, SF .. .. .. 30

Willie Stargell, Pit .. .. .30

1973 Willie Stargell, Pit .. .. .30

1976 Dave Kingman, NYM ... .. ...30

1976 Mike Schmidt, Phi .. .. .. .31

Mark McGwire, Oak .. .. .. .33

Brady Anderson, O's .. .. ..30

Pub Date: 7/08/96

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