The Orioles moved back into first place in the wild-card race last night, and boy, was it ever a wild ride.
No one could dream up a crazy game like the Orioles' 12-11, 10-inning victory over Oakland last night. The Orioles fell behind 3-1, jumped ahead 8-3 in a rally that included three homers and a knockdown pitch of Cal Ripken, fell behind 10-8, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, blew a chance to win the game in the ninth, fell behind again in the 10th -- before winning in the bottom of the 10th on an RBI triple by Brady Anderson and a bases-loaded walk by Ripken.
The Orioles vaulted over the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card race, and lead by a half-game.
Oakland took an 11-10 lead in the top of the 10th, when Mike Bordick singled home pinch runner Rafael Bournigal. But Athletics reliever Mark Acre hit Chris Hoiles with a pitch leading off the 10th for the Orioles. Mike Devereaux bunted pinch runner Manny Alexander to second, and with two outs, Anderson ripped a triple into the right-center-field gap, tying the game.
Oakland intentionally walked Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla to load the bases, and Acre completely lost control, throwing four balls in five pitches to Ripken -- the last a ball that knocked Ripken on his back. The crowd of 43,361 exploded, and Acre walked off, dejected.
Oakland led 10-8 after Tony Batiste hit a two-run homer off Alan Mills in the eighth. But Roberto Alomar led off the Orioles' ninth with a single. Doug Johns replaced Buddy Groom, one left-hander relieving another, to face Anderson. Oakland's outfield shifted to right, because Anderson never hits the ball into the left-field corner.
He did this time, hitting a looper down the line that barely eluded the dive of left fielder Phil Plantier. By the time Plantier relayed the ball back to the infield, Alomar had scored and Anderson was diving into third with a triple.
Palmeiro smacked a liner that hit the chalk of the first base line, and rolled into the corner; Anderson trotted home with the tying run. Oakland intentionally walked Bonilla, and Acre relieved Johns to face Ripken, with men on first and second and none out.
Ripken tried to bunt the runners along, but popped up. B. J. Surhoff flied to right, the second out. Eddie Murray banged a hard shot to right, but Brian Lesher caught it in front of the scoreboard.
The Orioles led 8-3 after an emotional third inning, in which Palmeiro and Bonilla hit back-to-back homers, Ripken was knocked down with a pitch, and Chris Hoiles hit a grand slam.
Oakland came back to tie the game, Matt Stairs' solo homer knotting the score at 8-all in the seventh. Phil Plantier led off the eighth with a single off Alan Mills, and moved to second on a wild pitch. Mills retired the next two hitters, but Batista crushed a two-run homer to left, his second homer of the game.
The first knockdown pitch to Ripken may have stemmed from the five-game series in Oakland the weekend of Aug. 15-18. The Orioles blasted the Athletics in the first two games of that series, 18-5 and 14-3, and some Oakland players privately felt the
Orioles swaggered unnecessarily through those blowouts, showboating as they circled the bases. Oakland really did nothing to express its displeasure in that series, other than coming back and winning the last two games. Nobody was drilled on purpose, there were no bench-clearing brawls.
But either the Athletics found the need to address this in the third inning last night, or Wasdin lost his cool, or he suddenly lost his control on a fastball that would've rearranged Ripken's teeth.
The inning began with Brent Bowers reaching on a throwing error, and Roberto Alomar fouled a bunt with two strikes and Brady Anderson flied to left. Two outs, runner on first, an uneventful inning.
Then Palmeiro reached out and hammered a fly to left, to the opposite field. Oakland left fielder Plantier hustled after the ball -- and then rocked back, in seeming disbelief, as the ball cleared the left-field wall, Palmeiro's 31st homer. Tie game.
Bonilla followed with a similar shot to left, opposite field, his 19th homer. As Bonilla, the primary object of Oakland's ire in the West Coast series, circled the bases, A's catcher Terry Steinbach went to the mound to talk to Wasdin.
Ripken stepped in to hit, and whether intentional or not, the very first pitch Wasdin threw him knocked him on his rear. The 43,361 at Camden Yards roared in anger; you don't throw at Cal in Cal's house.
Ripken had the perfect answer for Wasdin, slamming a single to left. Surhoff doubled Ripken to third. Howe elected to intentionally walk Murray to load the bases and replace Wasdin with right-hander Carlos Reyes, and Wasdin trudged off the field to violent boos.
Hoiles moved ahead in the count 3-1 and had the luxury of sitting on a fastball, and he unloaded it to deep left-center, the eighth grand slam of the year, tying a club record. The Orioles led 8-3.
But the outcome was far from decided. The Athletics scored a run in the fourth, and two runners reached base with one out in the fifth. Orioles rookie Rocky Coppinger, having a bad night, went to a full count on Steinbach and shook off Hoiles once, and then again, before finally settling on a slider. Steinbach blasted it for a three-run homer, drawing the Athletics to within 8-7.
Terry Mathews relieved Coppinger in the sixth and retired the first five hitters. Then Stairs slammed a bases-empty homer.
Pub Date: 8/27/96