HRs help Palmeiro blast away frustration First baseman clubs two off lefties to Eutaw Street

Sidelight

April 12, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Rafael Palmeiro wasn't seeing the ball well against Texas Rangers starter John Burkett last night. And because of it, he wasn't seeing the desired results.

Palmeiro, the Orioles first baseman, hit into a double play in his first at-bat. He struck out to lead off the third inning, and stranded two runners in the fourth by grounding out.

It could have been a lost night, but wound up being something totally different after Burkett was knocked out in the sixth.

Facing left-hander Eric Gunderson to open the seventh, Palmeiro jumped on the first pitch and sent it an estimated 411 feet to right, the 13th home run hit onto Eutaw Street.

The next inning brought another left-hander, Ed Vosberg, and another assault on a baseball. With two on and none out, Palmeiro again went after the first pitch, sending a 408-foot blast that also landed on Eutaw Street.

"He was a little frustrated," manager Davey Johnson said after the Orioles' 9-3 victory. "He had some situations earlier when he didn't swing the bat too good off the right-hander. Then they brought in the left-handers and he made them pay."

Twice.

"Burkett had me off-balance, and I really just tried to concentrate on keeping my front shoulder in and seeing the ball," Palmeiro said. "Both times, they were good pitches to hit."

Both of them were curveballs that "weren't necessarily where they wanted them," Palmeiro said.

There aren't many safe places to pitch to him lately. Palmeiro has three homers in his last seven at-bats, all against lefties. So much for favorable matchups.

"Sometimes, in situations where you're trying to hit the ball hard against a right-hander, you get a little jumpy," said hitting coach Rick Down. "Against a left-hander, you know you have to stay there and let the ball travel."

This was the 16th time in Palmeiro's career that he had homered twice in the same game. He also became the first Oriole to reach Eutaw Street twice in the same game, and it was the third time overall that he had a ball land there, the other occurring April 3, 1996, off Mark Gubicza.

"He can hit. He's always capable of doing those things," Down said.

Said Palmeiro: "You go through a good streak and you try to extend it. You go through a bad streak and you try to eliminate it."

Palmeiro's four RBIs last night give him 10 this season. He also raised his average to .281.

Not that the numbers mean a whole lot to him. Rather than bask in his accomplishments last night, he almost sounded irritated at the attention.

"It's no big deal," he said. "The important thing is that we won. I don't worry about what I do or what I don't do. Once it's done, it's done."

He sure did enough to finish off the Rangers. And the timing was typical of this season -- all four of his home runs have come in the seventh inning or later.

"I like to see him at the plate with men on base," Down said. "We're fortunate that we have three or four guys who are in that same category, which a lot of people don't have."

Eutaw St. sluggers

A list of players who have hit home runs onto Eutaw Street:

Date Player, team Feet

4/20/92 M. Tettleton, Det. 432

5/5/92 Kevin Reimer, Tex. 343

5/23/92 Lee Stevens, Cal. 430

4/24/94 Ken Griffey, Sea. 424

6/8/95 Kevin Bass, O's 409

4/3/96 Rafael Palmeiro, O's 412

4/27/96 Brady Anderson, O's 380

4/30/96 Paul O Neill, N.Y. 431

7/7/96 Mo Vaughn, Bos. 419

7/26/96 Jim Thome, Cle. 440

8/14/96 Eddie Murray, O's 384

9/8/96 Bobby Bonilla, O's 405

4/11/97 Rafael Palmeiro, O's 411

4/11/97 Rafael Palmeiro, O's 408

Pub Date: 4/12/97

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