Hoiles, O's bash Tigers in 14-2 win Catcher leads way in 18-hit attack with 2 HRs, 6 RBIs

Orioles 16-3 since break

Mussina gets 9th win despite tight hamstring

July 30, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

DETROIT -- The Orioles' payback tour continued last night. What they did to the Detroit Tigers bordered on cruel and unusual.

However, what ended as a 14-2 beating before 19,607 at Tiger Stadium can no longer be considered unusual. The Orioles equaled their season high for runs and had 18 hits, coming up one hit short of their season best in that category.

Now 16-3 since the All-Star break, the Orioles (54-53) had four players who managed three hits apiece. Six scored two runs or more. And none was more prolific than catcher Chris Hoiles, who smacked two home runs and a double and left with six RBIs.

Designated hitter Eric Davis bumped his season-high hitting streak to 16 games, eight shy of the club record. Every starter had at least one hit. Cal Ripken produced his first triple since September 1996. None of the Tigers' first three pitchers could make it stop.

The Orioles' 33 total bases almost eclipsed the work of Mike Mussina, who extended his career dominance over the Tigers and their home park.

Mussina (9-5) endured six innings despite pitching with a tight right hamstring that threatened to chase him early. Doug Johns warmed in the first and second innings but didn't appear until the seventh. He gained a save for three innings' work.

Mussina said the hamstring had bothered him since his last start Friday night, but he didn't expect it to be a problem last night.

"It wasn't too bad for the last five days," he said. "It didn't bother me too much in warm-ups. But you get in a game and you turn it up. I'm not too concerned about it right now."

Given a 4-0 lead before he took the mound, Mussina visibly labored through the first inning, then stranded two runners in the second. He allowed a run in the third but the Orioles provided him a 6-1 lead in the fourth. The game never again was in doubt.

"By the second or third inning I felt kind of comfortable," Mussina said. "I'd settled into the way I was going to throw. I knew what I was capable of and what I could throw. I felt much better than I did in the first inning."

His stiff hamstring cost him velocity, accounting for just one strikeout. But he checked the Tigers on six hits and cut his ERA to 3.58.

"You don't need velocity to pitch well," Mussina said. "You need location and movement. If you're not going to have all three, the first one you're willing to give up is velocity. Get your off-speed pitches over and control both sides of the plate with your fastball. Plus, it's a lot easier to pitch when you've got runs."

Last night further illustrated the Orioles' second-half surge. In 19 games since the All-Star break, they have scored 126 runs, nearly seven per outing. They have had 10 or more hits in 12 of their past 17 games. Last night's barrage marked their 11th game of double-digit run production this season. Two weeks after raking the Texas Rangers for a season-high 19 hits, they nearly provided an encore.

The early cushion reinforced Mussina's career dominance against Detroit.

Not only did he jump to 3-0 this season against the Tigers, but Mussina is now 13-2 in 19 career starts against them, including 6-1 at Tiger Stadium. His biggest crime last night were issuing his first walk in 20 innings. It is uncertain whether the condition will affect his next start, scheduled for next week against the Tigers.

"I don't know what it is. I don't know why I throw well here. But I don't want to ask too many questions because it may not happen again," Mussina said.

Mussina has not lost since June 27 at Montreal. He cleared the sixth inning in his ninth consecutive start. Once starved for support, Mussina has received 39 runs in his past four starts.

The Tigers sent an overmatched group beginning with veteran Frank Castillo (3-7) and continuing with Doug Bochtler, rookie Dean Crow and Sean Runyan. None of the first three lasted more than three innings nor allowed fewer than three runs.

Beginning in the fourth, the Orioles scored in clusters against a ragged staff. Hoiles, now hitting .264 after scuffling at .186 near the end of May, accounted for six of 10 runs in the four-inning breakout. Brady Anderson supplied the second of the Orioles' three home runs with a bases-empty shot one batter after Hoiles' first.

After sending the minimum 24 hitters to the plate in their last eight at-bats Tuesday, the Tigers never brought the tying run to the plate last night. The Orioles sent 10 hitters against Castillo in the first inning. Every starter had hit safely by the fifth.

Davis' three hits gave him hits in 18 of 19 games since the break. He has 25 RBIs and 12 multi-hit games in the span.

Hoiles, who narrowly missed a third home run, added to the recent windfall production from the Orioles' catchers. He smashed a two-run homer in the fifth inning, followed with another in the sixth and completed his RBI barrage with a two-run double in the seventh.

In his past 21 games, Hoiles has six home runs and 19 RBIs. He had only two home runs and 12 RBIs in his first 41 games.

"I don't know why it happens like this, but it seems to be this way every year," Hoiles said. "Maybe it's because early in the year I'm so conscious of pulling the ball and getting off to a good start. I don't know. But I do know that when I'm going well I use the whole field. That's what I did tonight."

Orioles today

Opponent: Detroit Tigers

Site: Tiger Stadium, Detroit

Time: 1: 05 p.m.

TV/Radio: Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters: Orioles' Jimmy Key (4-3, 4.06) vs. Tigers' Justin Thompson (9-8, 3.67)

Hot in July

Orioles catcher Chris Hoiles' July hitting is in marked contrast to his cold numbers last year during the month:

Yr. .. AB .. H .. HR .. RBI .. Avg.

'97 .. 33 .. 5 ... 1 .. . 5.. .152

'98 .. 40 . 14 ... 4 ... 14.. .350

Pub Date: 7/30/98

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