Past success helps O's pack optimism for last trip West

August 29, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

For the Orioles, there's no place like road.

Sure, Camden Yards is great, with 45,000-plus fans screaming and cheering, but something about travel just seems to bring out the best in the Orioles.

They finished an important nine-game homestand with a 5-4 record, following yesterday's 3-0 loss, but as the players packed and dressed for last night's flight to Seattle, no one seemed to mind the impending fourth and last trip to the West Coast.

Yesterday's loss dropped the Orioles' home record to 36-34. They are 34-28 on the road. And, logically enough, the Orioles' surge to first in the wild-card race began in early August when they went 9-4 on a two-week road trip.

"I feel good about going on the road," Rafael Palmeiro said. "This is a big road trip. I would say a split in Seattle [four games] and winning the series in California is a realistic goal. We need to go out and have a good trip, but I wouldn't say it's a make-or-break trip."

The Orioles got to play both the Mariners and Angels at home in the past week. They won two of three against Seattle but lost two of three to California. But entering play yesterday, the Mariners and Angels were a combined five games below .500 and their pitching staffs were second and third worst in the league, respectively.

"We can always play better, you know," Brady Anderson said. "We played pretty good on this homestand. I think we're not completely satisfied with how we played, but we played pretty well."

Despite the discrepancy in their home and road record, reliever Jesse Orosco said he doesn't feel like the Orioles are a road team.

"Some teams, when they start playing bad on the road, they get kind of intimidated," Orosco said. "You can't really figure out sometimes why some teams play better on the road. We were playing bad at home and on the road for the longest time. Then we got hot on the road and everybody thinks we're a road team. I thought we played good at home recently, too."

The Orioles don't have to worry about losing at home much more. They have 19 road games left on the schedule and only 11 at home.

The remaining home games won't leave manager Davey Johnson smiling. Johnson dreads one-series homestands, but the Toronto Blue Jays come to town for just three games Sept. 20-22 before the Orioles head back on the road.

Then the Orioles fly from Detroit into Baltimore for a makeup game with Milwaukee Sept. 16 before flying out to New York.

But with a playoff spot within reach, he won't bicker. "I think the club feels good about itself," Johnson said. "We know what we can do. Our destiny's in our own hands."

Pub Date: 8/29/96

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