In swan song, Orioles, Ripken go down quietly

Red Sox finish sweep with 5-1 win

star leaves field with 0-for-3 outing

October 07, 2001|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Rick Bauer's first pitch was bunted foul last night, and nobody cared. David Cone's first pitch was taken for a strike, and nobody cared. The Orioles played the first seven innings as if in a daze, and nobody cared.

The Orioles lost to the Boston Red Sox, 5-1, and few people among the 48,807 at Camden Yards will remember the score. All that mattered was that game No. 3,001 in Cal Ripken's career also would be his last.

Batting seventh in a lineup written for practical purposes rather than on emotion, Ripken went 0-for-3 in the last swings he'll take as a player. He came out of the dugout for one final curtain call after flying to center in the eighth inning, with Cone stepping off the mound in anticipation. Ripken tapped his chest, his eyes scanning every section of the ballpark, and said, "That's all." Then he was gone.

A game ended, with Ripken standing in the on-deck circle, along with another fourth-place season. And so, too, did an era.

Never was that more apparent than when Ripken bolted from the dugout in the first inning, and turned to find the players who were in the Orioles lineup for his first start on Aug. 12, 1981.

If only the group could have stayed on the field, transformed to their youth, to allow Ripken one final victory.

Making perhaps his last start, his emotions still raw after losing so many friends during the attacks on the World Trade Center, Cone limited the Orioles to one hit over seven innings. It came from Brady Anderson, Ripken's closest friend on the team, who doubled with one out in the second but was thrown out trying for third.

Cone retired 16 of 17 batters before Anderson led off the eighth with a single. Geronimo Gil singled and Jerry Hairston walked, but the Orioles couldn't score.

After the Orioles took a 1-0 lead in the first, Bauer, in only his sixth major-league start, surrendered two-run homers to Dante Bichette and Jose Offerman, as the Red Sox completed a four-game sweep. The Orioles finished the season 63-98, their record declining each of the past four years for only the second time in franchise history.

"Record-wise, the season hasn't been what we wanted," manager Mike Hargrove said, "but beyond that we've really been able to accomplish a lot of things and sort through things to give us a clearer and better idea of the direction we need to go."

Ripken's farewell capped off a historic week for baseball that included Barry Bonds becoming the single-season home run leader, Rickey Henderson breaking Ty Cobb's career record for runs scored, and the Seattle Mariners establishing the all-time best record by an American League team. On a smaller scale, the Orioles' Buddy Groom made his 70th appearance last night, extending a record for consecutive seasons he shares with Colorado's Mike Myers.

"The last 10 days have been very remarkable. I don't know that I've ever seen more emotion, topped off by tonight," commissioner Bud Selig said.

"When I think of how I agonized over when to restart the games [after the attacks] and how it's all worked out, I'm just very grateful. And tonight was the capper. I've looked forward to this for a long time. . I have a special affinity for Cal."

This never had the makings of a normal night, so when plate umpire Eric Cooper's strained Achilles' tendon caused a 10-minute delay after the first inning, with Hargrove motioning the Orioles to leave the field, hardly anyone flinched. They were waiting for Ripken to bat, waiting for him to speak after the game.

Waiting for one last chance to say goodbye.

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