Home nice, but Murray wants 500th Taken by 'sea of orange,' DH still eager to end wait

Sidelight

September 01, 1996|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- Eddie Murray appreciates the orange placards that Orioles fans waved during the last homestand, those that read Ed-die and were produced in anticipation of his 500th homer.

It's just that maybe they were a little too noticeable. The first time Murray saw them, "we were getting smoked like 13-0," he said, chuckling. "It didn't seem like exactly the right time."

Murray went homerless on the nine-game homestand, and didn't hit No. 499 until Friday night, when he ripped a changeup by Seattle left-hander Sterling Hitchcock over the left-field wall in the fourth inning of a 5-2 victory. Murray had two singles in five at-bats yesterday, leaving him with 499 homers and 3,199 hits.

Orioles manager Davey Johnson has no intention of holding Murray out of the lineup so he can hit No. 500 in Camden Yards, and that's not Murray's style, anyway; he just wants to play, and No. 500 will come sooner or later.

Murray was asked if he pressed for homers at home, and relaxed once the Orioles took to the road. "The only difference was . . . [Camden Yards] was not a normal hitting environment, seeing a sea of orange," said Murray. "It would be nice to do it there. Now I'd like to get it out of the way.

"I haven't really been trying to hit homers. I might've had pitches to hit, and I missed them. . . . When you're trying to hit them, you don't."

Murray hit his 498th homer Aug. 16, then fell into a mild slump in which he had only eight hits in 42 at-bats (.190). He swung poorly in the first game of the Mariners series Thursday night, lurching at pitches, particularly when he was hitting from the right side.

Johnson mentioned to Murray before Friday's game that he thought Murray was jumping at the ball, rather than letting pitches come to him, and Murray told his manager that he intended to take some pitches against Hitchcock, to help him relax.

Murray flied out in his first plate appearance, and in his second at-bat, he pulled a grounder down the third base line he thought was fair.

Murray stood at first for a few moments, looking at the umpires and with his eyes asked unspoken questions. He returned to the plate, and two pitches later, he waited nicely on Hitchcock's changeup and hit No. 499.

As reporters waited for Murray to dress after the game, Bobby Bonilla stood next to Murray and smiled a huge Bobby Bo smile.

"I love this stuff," he said loudly. "Five hundred homers. Yeah."

One more to go.

Tracking Murray

The Orioles' Eddie Murray is one home run short of 500. Here's a look at his at-bats yesterday:

bTC 2nd inning: vs. Moyer. Struck out swinging.

3rd inning: vs. Moyer. Grounded out to shortstop.

inning: vs. Bosio. Singled to right-center.

7th inning: vs. T. Davis. Singled to center.

inning: vs. Jackson. Struck out swinging.

The 500 clubs

As soon as Eddie Murray joins, the Orioles will become one of five teams who have had three members of the 500-homer club:

Braves: Babe Ruth, Eddie Mathews, Hank Aaron.

Red Sox: Babe Ruth, Jimmie Foxx, Ted Williams.

Yankees: Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, Mickey Mantle.

Giants: Mel Ott, Willie Mays, Willie McCovey.

Orioles: Frank Robinson, Reggie Jackson, Eddie Murray.

Pub Date: 9/01/96

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