'98 highlights, lowlights ORIOLES

September 29, 1998|By Joe Strauss

Days to remember

Sept. 20: Wanting to "change the subject," Cal Ripken finishes what took him more than 16 years to create. About 35 minutes before the Sunday night game against the New York Yankees, Ripken walks into manager Ray Miller's office and says, "It's time." Ryan Minor replaces Ripken in the lineup and a stretch of 2,632 consecutive games comes to an end. Ripken, who spends much of the game in the Orioles' bullpen, receives a standing ovation from a sellout crowd and the Yankees' dugout. (The Orioles lose the game and are mathematically eliminated from the wild-card race.)

Aug. 14: Catcher Chris Hoiles hits two grand slams in a 15-3 win over the Cleveland Indians. The feat is even rarer than a perfect game. Hoiles' eight RBIs leave him one shy of the club record shared by Eddie Murray and Jim Gentile.

Aug. 4: Mike Mussina comes within four outs of the Orioles' first perfect game before settling for a two-hit, 4-0 win against the Detroit Tigers. It's the second time in barely 14 months that Mussina comes within a wisp of a perfect game and the third time in two seasons he has carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

Aug. 15: Less than a year since returning from colon cancer surgery, Eric Davis extends an Orioles record by hitting in his 30th consecutive game. Davis bats .400 during the tear, which ends the next night against Jaret Wright. The streak holds as the longest in the majors this season. Davis' previous career high was a 17-game streak in 1986. The previous team record was set by Rafael Palmeiro (24) in 1994.

June 1-2: Palmeiro completes consecutive comebacks against the Seattle Mariners with game-winning home runs. The first homer comes against Tony Fossas in a 10-9 victory and the second against Bobby Ayala in a 10-inning, 9-8 win. Palmeiro finishes the year with three sudden-death home runs and leads the AL in game-winning RBIs.

Days to forget

May 14: Indians catcher Sandy Alomar drills a line drive just above Mussina's right eye, leaving Mussina with a fractured nose and more than 30 stitches. The Orioles eventually lose, 5-4, and fall to 20-19. It is the last day the Orioles spend above .500 until July 24. It is the second time Mussina lands on the disabled list.

May 19: The most damaging eight days of the season continue when mercurial closer Armando Benitez ignites a bench-clearing brawl against the New York Yankees by hitting Tino Martinez. The incident occurs on the first pitch after Benitez surrenders a ,, game-losing, eighth-inning home run to Bernie Williams. Benitez receives an eight-game suspension. Alan Mills is suspended three games. Two days later, Jimmy Key leaves a game with an inflamed rotator cuff. A day after that, Scott Kamieniecki goes down, leaving 60 percent of the rotation on the disabled list.

Aug. 26: Displeased by consecutive losses after a 31-10 stretch, Miller convenes a clubhouse meeting in Chicago that turns explosive when he challenges the effort of second baseman Roberto Alomar. They nearly have a physical confrontation as Alomar voices his lack of respect for Miller as a manager. The losing doesn't stop until the Orioles have dropped 10 straight and buried themselves in the wild-card race.

June 28: The franchise with the game's largest payroll loses the last of three straight to the Montreal Expos, the team with the smallest payroll. If getting outscored by a combined 20-9 isn't bad enough, Expos manager Felipe Alou minimizes the three games by reminding everyone they were only against the Orioles. The three losses come in the midst of an eight-game slide.

May 18: The Tampa Bay Devil Rays make history at Camden Yards by becoming the first expansion club to sweep a four-game series on the road. Managing only nine runs, the Orioles begin a nine-day stay in last place.

Aug. 20: With an opportunity to creep within six games of the wild card-leading Boston Red Sox, the Orioles instead lose, 4-2, to the Devil Rays and local product Tony Saunders. The loss fractures their momentum, as the Orioles follow a 30-8 run with an 11-25 collapse to end the season.

Aug. 1: Everyone in the American League knows the Orioles couldn't stop a running game. The Kansas City Royals do plenty about it in a 9-5 win at Kauffman Stadium. Their eight steals tie the record by an Orioles opponent. At one point, Kamieniecki heaves his arms skyward in disgust.

Sept. 15: Miller all but concedes the failed experiment of Benitez as a closer after Texas Rangers catcher Ivan Rodriguez yanks a lazy slider inside the left-field foul pole for a ninth-inning, three-run homer. It is the seventh time Benitez has allowed a homer to his first batter faced; afterward, Miller can't contain his desire to return Benitez to his 1997 setup role. Not only does a six-game win streak end, but a season-ending 2-11 tumble also begins.

Pub Date: 9/29/98

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