O's drill Twins, 16-9 Baines, 5-hit Anderson combine for 3 HRs, 9 RBIs in rally to win

Erickson struggles again

Twins score 5 in first

Boston lead cut to 7 1/2

August 08, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- Tired starting pitching and indifferent fielding plagued the Orioles last night. They only won 16-9.

The Orioles are playing this well: Struggling starting pitcher Scott Erickson can get only 12 outs and allow a five-run first inning; they can sleepwalk on defense; manager Ray Miller can purge his bullpen, and they can still steamroll the hapless Minnesota Twins.


By mashing hits for nine straight runs thanks largely to three home runs from the sixth through the eighth innings.

By watching sore-armed but determined Jimmy Key (5-3) claim his first win since April 30 in his first regular-season relief appearance since 1986.

By discovering Harold Baines and Brady Anderson, one who has been lost to injury for nearly a month, the other lost in a slump for at least as long.

The Orioles improved to 21-5 since the All-Star break thanks to four home runs, season-high run production and 19 hits. At 59-55, the Orioles lifted themselves four games above .500 for the first time since April 25.

The overmatched Twins dropped their sixth straight and were steamrolled after leading 5-2. Combined with the Boston Red Sox's loss to Texas, the Orioles climbed to within 7 1/2 games of the wild-card lead.

"Things are happening now as a team that didn't happen in the first half, for whatever reason," Key observed. "Everybody here has been around long enough to know baseball is funny. You get on a roll one way, it can go the other way. It's turned that way for us. This is a game we obviously wouldn't have won in the first half. We're winning these games now and that's why we're racking up wins."

Anderson, who devoted Thursday's day off to hours of batting practice, broke a 7-for-48 skid with five hits worth 13 total bases, including two home runs and two doubles. He drove in four runs. He came within two hits of equaling his hit production for the previous 15 games. Cal Ripken later juiced the scoring by drawing a three-run home run in the eighth inning.

"There are horrible parts to this game and great parts," said Anderson, who lifted his average 11 points, to .231. "This is one of the great parts."

But it was Baines who turned the game in the sixth inning by capping a five-RBI performance. Facing Eddie Guardado, the Orioles designated hitter ripped his first home run of the season against a left-handed pitcher.

Miller admitted he would have pinch hit Chris Hoiles for Baines had Anderson reached to load the bases with one out. Instead, Anderson made his only out of the night and Baines received a rare at-bat against a left-hander. The result landed in the Metrodome's upper deck.

"Against a lefty I just try to hit a mistake. He made a mistake. I just happened to get it up in the air," said Baines.

The night's last vestige of suspense passed when Eric Davis singled with one out in the eighth to extend his career-high hitting streak to 23 games. It is the latest Davis has waited to hit safely during his streak, which is one behind Rafael Palmeiro for the club record.

Last night marked the second time in nine games the Orioles have overcome a five-run first inning to win. By doing so, they spared Erickson a third loss in as many appearances. The league leader with 176 2/3 innings pitched, Erickson lasted only four-plus innings while failing to protect leads of 2-0 and 6-5. He has lasted only 12 combined innings in his last three starts, failing to get a win despite 26 runs of support.

Miller didn't need long to get a read on Erickson. The Twins scored five times in the first inning while sending 10 hitters to the plate. The mess included five hits, two walks (one intentional), a steal and four runs with two outs.

The Orioles grabbed a 2-0 lead before making their first out off Twins starter LaTroy Hawkins when Baines singled home Roberto Alomar and Anderson. A pair of walks loaded the bases with one out, but the threat evaporated when Ripken looped a line drive that became a double play when Palmeiro strayed from second base.

The Orioles kept coming in the second inning as Anderson followed Alomar's two-out single with his 11th home run, a monstrous shot that clanked off the retracted football bleachers in center field.

Trailing by a run, the Orioles completed their comeback in the fourth inning with the help of an infield error on Lenny Webster's high chop. A one-out double by Mike Bordick put runners at second and third. Alomar's sacrifice fly tied the game and Anderson's third extra-base hit in four innings, a double to right, scored Bordick and left him with three RBIs, only one fewer than he had since July 15.

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.