Home run little solace to Palmeiro Streaking Oriole has eye only for AL standings

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

August 18, 1996|By Peter Schmuck | Peter Schmuck,SUN STAFF

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Rafael Palmeiro looked particularly disappointed yesterday, even though he had hit his 30th home run of the year and added to a tremendous four-game performance against the Oakland Athletics. It just wasn't

enough.

"We really needed to win that one," said Palmeiro, soon after Oakland pitcher Ariel Prieto put an end to the Orioles' five-game winning streak, 3-1. "We saw that the Yankees were getting beat bad. I thought that might be enough to get us going, but Prieto pitched a great ballgame."

It might still seem a little early for scoreboard watching, but the Orioles are in the midst of a terrific run at first-place New York, which lost a lopsided game to the Seattle Mariners. That left the Orioles with a chance to close within 4 1/2 games of first place in the American League East, but Palmeiro knows that you can't expect to win them all.

"Our goal coming in was to win four of five games," Palmeiro said. "We still have a chance to do that tomorrow. If we do, we've accomplished something."

Palmeiro accomplished something that is starting to become routine for him. He reached 30 home runs for the third time in the last four years, and likely would be the fourth time in a row if the players strike had not chopped two months off the 1994 season, when he hit 23. But he didn't seem very happy about it.

"That was one of my personal goals and I achieved it," he said, "but this is the time of year when numbers don't matter. You just have to find ways to win games."

The Orioles won the first three games of the series largely because Palmeiro is on a major roll. He drove in three runs in the opener and had eight RBIs in the doubleheader sweep on Friday. He did everything he could yesterday, with a home run in the seventh inning and a potentially huge single in the ninth, but the A's finally got a decent performance from their bullpen and held on for the victory.

Palmeiro doesn't apologize for watching the scoreboard in mid-August. The Orioles have gained 6 1/2 games on the Yankees NTC over the past three weeks and have pulled close to the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card hunt.

"It's a different race now," he said. "Although we're looking at the Yankees, we're cheering against the White Sox. There are more teams involved, so you get caught up in it earlier than you would."

McDowell surgery due

Right-hander Roger McDowell has been scheduled to undergo surgery on his right shoulder tomorrow. Dr. Lewis Yocum will perform the noon procedure, in which he hopes to tighten McDowell's shoulder capsule and smooth frayed cartilage.

Depending on the extent of the damage, the recovery and rehabilitation period could be up to a full year.

Wells in no-decision rut

Left-hander David Wells will make his third attempt at his fourth straight victory in the series finale today. He has been one of the Orioles' most consistent pitchers since the All-Star break (4-2, 3.23 ERA), but has ended up with a no-decision his last two starts.

He has not had great success against the A's, losing his only decision against Oakland this year to even his lifetime record at 3-3.

Around the horn

The Orioles signed right-handed pitcher Ryan Kohlmeier, the team's 14th pick in the June draft. Kohlmeier pitched for Butler County Community College in Kansas. . . . Terry Steinbach (29), Mark McGwire (42) and Geronimo Berroa (34) have combined for 105 home runs, surpassing the previous Oakland mark for a threesome of 104 by McGwire (39), Jose Canseco (37) and Rickey Henderson (28) in 1990. . . . The A's sent right-hander Paul Fletcher back to Triple-A after just one day in the majors to recall Mark Acre, who got the save yesterday. Fletcher was called up Friday and pitched 1 1/3 innings in the first game of Friday's doubleheader, giving up six hits and three runs. . . . Yesterday was the first time in six tries the A's beat the Orioles at home.

Twin streaks

Rafael Palmeiro is on an eight-game hitting and RBI streak, during which he is batting .444:

Date ... Opp. .. AB .. H .. HR .. RBI

8/10 ... Chi. ... 5 .. 2 ... 0 .... 2

8/11 ... Chi. ... 4 .. 2 ... 0 .... 1

8/13 ... Mil. ... 3 .. 1 ... 0 .... 1

8/14 ... Mil. ... 3 .. 1 ... 0 .... 1

8/15 ... Oak. ... 6 .. 3 ... 1 .... 3

8/16 ... Oak. ... 6 .. 3 ... 0 .... 6

8/16 ... Oak. ... 5 .. 2 ... 0 .... 2

8/17 ... Oak. ... 4 .. 2 ... 1 .... 1

Totals ......... 36.. 16 ... 2 ... 17

Pub Date: 8/18/96

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