Power trip takes O's for wild ride

September 09, 1996|By Ken Rosenthal

Who needs a third base coach?

For the Orioles, a robot would suffice.

"We don't give signs," Sam Perlozzo lamented yesterday.

Signs are for bunts, for hit-and-runs, for all those wimpy National League one-base-at-a-time strategies.

For the Orioles, "little ball" is a 370-foot homer.

And poor Sam Perlozzo is obsolete.

Owner Peter Angelos could do just as good a job shaking hitters' hands as they round third base, not that we're recommending it.

"I've run out of ways to disguise my non-signs," Perlozzo said after yesterday's 6-2 pounding of the Detroit Tigers.

Yes, the Eutaw Street Bullies were at it again, trailing 2-1 in the eighth inning, then playing Mike Tyson to the Tigers' Bruce Seldon.

They hit harder than the Ravens, that's for sure.

This isn't a pennant race, it's a power trip.

Dump Eugene Kingsale and sign Dave Kingman.

Or, better yet, find Hulk Hogan for more tag-team action.

Todd Zeile opened the eighth with a walk, then Rafael Palmeiro jumped off the top rope, knocking out left-hander Joey Eischen with a two-run shot.

Palmeiro tagged Bobby Bonilla as he crossed the plate, and Tigers manager Buddy Bell ordered right-hander Jose Lima into the ring.

Bonilla delivered a roundhouse left for another homer, and two outs later, Chris Hoiles became the third man in with a two-run shot.

Welcome to New Jack City.

Wrestlemania at Camden Yards.

Is this any way to win a pennant? Not in the traditional sense. Almost every Orioles hitter swings for the fences. Few make adjustments.

It's an old baseball axiom: Good pitching beats good hitting, especially in September and October.

Then again, this year might be an exception, with good pitching in such short supply in the American League.

How many times have we seen games like yesterday's, when the slumbering Orioles awaken to crush some overmatched opponent like a grape?

"There is no letting up with this team," said Tigers left-hander Trever Miller, who pitched six outstanding innings in his first major-league start.

"You get a couple balls up and they're going to hit some home runs. That is how they are going to beat you."

Heck, it is the only way they beat you.

Team motto: When in doubt, slug it out.

Alternate motto: The warehouse must fall.

With a lineup this stacked, what's a manager to do?

"I have to discuss with [Eddie] Murray and [B. J.] Surhoff all the scenarios that would be best for hitting seventh and eighth," Davey Johnson said.

"One is going to the Hall of Fame, the other guy is a perennial .300 hitter with 20 bombs."

Still, it stands to reason that the Orioles can't keep playing home run derby to atone for their botched rundowns and 5.18 ERA, not to mention an outfield defense that yesterday included Bonilla and Pete Incaviglia.

In the next 10 days, they face not just Detroit, but also Chicago and New York, the teams ranked third and sixth in the league in ERA.

True, they've hit 231 homers, nine short of the major-league record set by the 1961 Yankees. But their offense is almost completely one-dimensional now.

Consider:

They've hit 25 home runs in 10 games since acquiring Zeile and Incaviglia, with the homers accounting for exactly two-thirds of their runs.

They're in a 10-for-75 slump with runners in scoring position.

They've attempted steals in only two of their past 13 games.

"If we run, everyone is going to all of a sudden faint," Johnson said. "Me, too."

Signs? Who needs signs?

Execution? That's the opponent's problem.

The Orioles aren't philosophically opposed to moving runners over. They just prefer to do it by hitting the ball over the wall.

Earl Weaver must love this team.

But from a purist's standpoint, the Orioles are, well, offensive.

They're a basketball team that only dunks, a football team that only throws bombs.

They might not survive a pennant race.

But they're perfectly suited for Camden Yards.

Remember when the park opened in 1992 and everyone said it would be fair for pitchers and hitters?

That seems like centuries ago.

"This park is a joke," the Tigers' Bell said. "It's worse than our park. Any ball that's hit here is to the warning track.

"I don't want to take anything away from them -- they've got great hitters. But with that lineup in this ballpark, if I was a pitcher I would be a little worried."

It's not a ballpark, it's a steel cage.

Raffy is inside, along with Bobby, Robbie and Inky, Brady, Hoiley and Ed-die, B. J., Todd and Cal.

How are you going to climb out?

Pub Date: 9/09/96

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.