O's hoping to alter SkyDome memories For '89 O's, Incaviglia, clinching would be sweeter at former house of horrors


September 27, 1996|By Jason LaCanfora | Jason LaCanfora,SUN STAFF

TORONTO -- SkyDome has not been kind to the Orioles.

It was where the 1989 Orioles' miracle season came to an abrupt end.

Cal Ripken, Bill Ripken, Brady Anderson, Chris Hoiles and Mike Devereaux suffered through that season-ending series defeat to the heavily favored Toronto Blue Jays, and now they're looking to make amends in this week's season finale.

This late September series could elicit similar feelings of loss for the Orioles, should they fail to secure a playoff berth in the next three days.

Or, for a change, there could be champagne stains and cigar butts on the floor of the visitors' clubhouse at SkyDome when the Orioles return home to Baltimore on Sunday night.

"We worked hard to get where we were in '89, but it was a situation where we had to win two of three games in that series," Devereaux said. "It was between us and them. Now, we still have a chance to get in, and they don't really have that incentive to win.

"I think back on how close we were to getting to the situation I was in last year [with the world champion Atlanta Braves], which was tremendous. In '89, I had no idea how it felt to be there.

"Now, knowing how it feels to be there and being in this situation in Toronto again, it's totally different."

The roles have been reversed to a certain degree.

In 1989, the Orioles achieved beyond all expectations. Even playing a meaningful game in September was an accomplishment. The Blue Jays were expected to compete for the pennant.

Now, it's the Orioles who must live up to expectations. They were assembled for postseason glory. Now, it's the Blue Jays who are rebuilding.

However, not every Oriole associates SkyDome with losing.

Starter David Wells was a key member of the great Blue Jays teams of the late 1980s and early 1990s.

Wells was only in his first full season in the majors in 1989, but he knew the series against the Orioles was the beginning of a streak that would culminate in greater things.

As it turns out, Wells left Toronto after the 1992 season, having been with the Blue Jays for three ALCS and the 1992 World Series. The Jays won the second of their back-to-back championships in 1993 without Wells.

"That [series with the Orioles] was the turning point to get us into the playoffs," Wells said. "The first step in us getting to the World Series. That was a nice win for us. If we didn't win the first two, then Baltimore was right back in the thick of things."

And, then there's Pete Incaviglia.

SkyDome may have dealt the Orioles outfielder the cruelest blow of all. Incaviglia was in left field for Game 6 of the 1993 World Series.

He pursued a blast off Joe Carter's bat in the bottom of the ninth inning, only to crash into the wall while the ball sailed over the fence, giving the Jays the world championship and sending Incaviglia's Philadelphia Phillies to a bitter defeat.

Wells would like nothing more than to give Incaviglia a more pleasant memory of SkyDome.

Unless the Orioles clinch a playoff spot before then, he is scheduled to start the season finale Sunday against his pal Pat Hentgen, who will going for his 20th win.

"If it comes down to me, it'll be a game for me to remember, I hope," Wells said. "I hope it's going to be victorious for us. I'm going to look at that point when the time comes. I don't want to get too far ahead of myself."

Pub Date: 9/27/96

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