Davis legs out streak to 25 for club record Near-miss homer in 9th only damper

replacement umpire again haunts O's

August 10, 1998|By Joe Strauss | Joe Strauss,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS -- With a third-inning single, designated hitter Eric Davis shattered Rafael Palmeiro's 4-year-old Orioles record for longest hitting streak. The hit, a ground ball into the hole between shortstop and third, marked the 25th consecutive game in which Davis has hit safely.

Like most of his streak, Davis took care of business early. He has extended the streak after the sixth inning only twice. "That's the way you like to get it done, before it gets down to the seventh, eighth or ninth innings," said Davis.

The streak has coincided with Davis' receiving regular time at designated hitter. The role has allowed him to play every game since the All-Star break, helping his consistency.

Davis insists he has not seen the ball this well in years and his average reflects it. Including yesterday's 1-for-5 performance, he is 42-for-109 during the streak (.385), including seven doubles, 10 home runs and 33 RBIs.

Davis readily concedes how much he values the accomplishment. His career-high streak stands as the longest active run in the major leagues.

Kansas City Royals second baseman Jose Offerman led him until his 27-game streak perished Saturday night against the New York Yankees.

"You can't put it aside because it's there," acknowledged Davis. "But I think the later you get in the ballgame you put it aside. If it's a situation where I have to take a walk, I take a walk. In that situation the team comes first."

Yesterday's milestone would have been even more memorable had his two-out opposite-field fly ball in the ninth inning carried slightly farther. It instead became the last out in a 5-4 loss.

"Another foot and it's a different story," said Davis, who drove closer Rick Aguilera's 3-2 pitch with the tying run at second base. "I was a foot away from having that ball hit off the wall. But I got it down on the end of the bat a little bit. You give me another inch and we're up 6-5. A half-inch we're up 6-5."

Baines ejected without word

Designated hitter Harold Baines may be the quietest member of the Orioles' clubhouse, but he apparently is not quiet enough for American League umpire Marty Foster. Baines was ejected after striking out in the ninth inning. His crime was dropping his bat and walking away following the called third strike, which like the pitch before it appeared to be borderline.

"Nothing in baseball surprises me anymore," said Baines, 39, a 19-year veteran who did not confront Foster and was unaware he had been ejected until Brady Anderson told him near the on-deck circle.

Manager Ray Miller became enraged and was quickly tossed after leaving the dugout to argue with Foster. He then carried his argument to crew chief John Shulock and second-base umpire Tim Tschida. It was Miller's second ejection since the All-Star break and seventh this season.

Foster, it might be recalled, is the replacement umpire who missed a critical call at third base in New York that handicapped the Orioles in a July 4 loss against the Yankees.

"He dropped the bat and he didn't say a word," Miller said. "When I asked [Foster] if he had thrown him out, he said, 'Yeah, and you're gone, too. ' That's disrespectful. That can't happen in one-run ballgames in the ninth inning. I don't care if a guy drops his bat when he strikes out.

"If a guy throws equipment at you or says something bad or something, that's one thing. But if he walks away and drops the bat in front of him. He's one of the most respected players in the game. He's never showed anybody up in his life. It's just a young guy [Foster] not having any respect."

The ejection was Baines' first since returning to the Orioles last July.

Do not pass go

Catcher Chris Hoiles halted a string of 14 consecutive successes by opposing base stealers yesterday when he threw out Pat Meares on a second-inning attempt. It was the first runner thrown out by Hoiles since July 14 and came eight days after the Royals stole eight bases with him behind the plate. Hoiles' previous victim was Anaheim's Craig Shipley, also with Mike Mussina pitching.

Hoiles later nabbed Otis Nixon before the Twins leadoff hitter responded with two steals in the eighth inning. Lenny Webster has caught three of 13 runners since July 14, leaving opponents' success ratio at 86.1 percent since Bastille Day.

The day took its toll on Hoiles. In the fourth inning, David Ortiz caught the catcher's back with his follow-through on a strikeout. Hoiles had his neck wrapped after the game, but insisted he does not believe the injury serious.

Moose menace

With three hits yesterday, shortstop Meares raised his career batting average against Mussina to .417 (10-for-24). Against everyone else, he's hitting .264 in his career.

So what's the secret?

"I have no idea," said Meares, whose two-run double in the seventh proved the game-winner.

Around the horn

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