Bordick's swing shifts into gear Shortstop accelerates offense from No. 9 spot

October 03, 1997|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

SEATTLE -- For Mike Bordick, much of the guesswork went out of his at-bat in the eighth inning yesterday.

Seattle reliever Bobby Ayala already had walked in a run, bringing the Orioles shortstop to the plate with the bases loaded, one out and Mariners down 6-3. Brady Anderson, who homered off the right-hander in the seventh, waited on deck. If Bordick was going to reach, he had to earn it. No more free passes. No getting cute on the corners.

Instead, Ayala got ripped.

Bordick's offensive resurgence took another deep breath in Game 2 of the Division Series. Having singled and scored off Jamie Moyer in the fifth, he scorched a hit into left-center field, bringing home two more runs and adding to the legacy of Seattle's bullpen follies.

"He was really kind of forced to come at me because he didn't want Brady to be up there," Bordick said while standing in front of his locker after the Orioles' 9-3 victory at the Kingdome. "I wanted to be aggressive in the strike zone. He came right at me and he left that one up. Thank goodness I got the good part of the bat on it and it got out there. We're fortunate that things worked in our favor in that situation."

Bordick, batting in his customary No. 9 spot in the order, said he wasn't surprised that Ayala still was in the game at that point despite being in trouble almost from the moment he entered in the seventh.

"I don't know much about pitching," he said.

He sure knows plenty about hitting it.

Over the first two games of this series, Bordick is 4-for-6 with two walks and four RBIs. All this, after hitting nearly .400 over the last 12 games of the regular season, and .330 (30-for-91) over the final 27.

His double off Randy Johnson in the third inning of Game 1 produced the Orioles' first run. His single in the sixth off reliever Mike Timlin brought in another. Then came yesterday's peppering.

Could his first taste of postseason play get any sweeter?

"It's been really exciting," said Bordick, who turned 32 in July. "Playing in the Kingdome, this is an electric place. And we're playing some good baseball. It's fun to be out there when everybody's doing good things and you're winning.

"It feels good to be able to get on base and let Brady and Robbie [Alomar] work their thing. That's been my goal, trying to get on base."

Bordick nearly scored another run yesterday but was thrown out at the plate in the eighth after Anderson doubled to center off reliever Norm Charlton. Asked if he was all right after sliding into catcher Dan Wilson, Bordick said, "I think so. I don't think I was going fast enough to get hurt. At least, that's what Brady says."

While the Orioles were bolting to the head of the AL East, Bordick was trying to find his stroke. His average was below .200 as late as May 24, and he didn't have an RBI in his first 75 at-bats. There also was a 1-for-34 slump in August that has been obliterated.

Through it all, his defense remained as sharp as Anderson's wit. Bordick committed only 13 errors all season and made a couple more plays yesterday that are routine only for a chosen few.

"The last two nights, the bottom of the lineup has generated a lot of offense for us and it takes a lot of pressure off everyone else," RTC said assistant general manager Kevin Malone. "Bordy's a big-game player. He has a way of turning it up a notch. He's been a Gold Glover all year, and we always thought he could be a contributor offensively. He had his ups and down this year, but it seemed he got some big hits for us along the way. He's gotten his hits, gotten his walks. He's created some offense for us from that slot."

"Mike Bordick has been great all year long," said manager Davey Johnson. "He started kind of in a little slump. It was being at shortstop, moving Cal [Ripken] to third base. He pressed a lot early but he's relaxed a lot lately."

Now, he's making opposing pitchers nervous. He got to Randy Johnson and Mike Timlin, Jamie Moyer and Bobby Ayala.

Who's next?

'Babe' Bordick

After a season in which he batted .236 with 46 RBIs in 509 at-bats (one every 11 at-bats), Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick has four RBIs in six at-bats and is hitting .667 in the first two postseason games of his career with a .750 on-base percentage:

Gm .. .. ..H-AB .. ..R .. ..RBI .. ..BB

Game 1 .. ..2-3 .. ..2 .. .. .2 .. ...1

Game 2 .. ..2-3 .. ..2 .. .. .2 .. ...1

Totals .. ..4-6 .. ..4 .. .. .4 .. ...2

Pub Date: 10/03/97

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