Bordick, Ripken top errorless list

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

Shortstop joins Iron Man with 428 chances in row

O's surpass '01 HR total

August 25, 2002|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

The record for consecutive errorless chances by a shortstop is in good hands. All four of them.

In the first game of yesterday's doubleheader, Mike Bordick moved into a tie with former Orioles teammate Cal Ripken at 428. He reached the milestone in the ninth inning by getting an assist on a ground ball from the Toronto Blue Jays' Eric Hinske.

Bordick began the day tied with the Cleveland Indians' Omar Vizquel at 425 - the Orioles initially thought he passed Vizquel during Friday's game until checking with Elias Sports Bureau - and needing three to catch Ripken.

"Any player who plays at this level strives for consistency, and it's certainly something I've worked hard at my whole career," Bordick said. "You want to go out there and try to make the plays and limit the opportunities for the other team, and I've been able to do that."

The record means more to him because it's attached to Ripken, who celebrated his 42nd birthday yesterday. The Orioles moved Ripken to third base in 1997 after signing Bordick as a free agent.

"Any time you get into a situation like that and Cal's name is brought up, it's something special because in most people's minds, Cal's probably the greatest shortstop to play the game," Bordick said.

Unlike Friday, when Bordick had eight combined putouts and assists, the ball didn't find him very often in the first game yesterday. (He sat out the nightcap.) He completed a force at second base in the first inning and fielded a run-scoring grounder by Dave Berg in the sixth. With the infield playing in to hold a runner at third base, Bordick scooped up Hinske's grounder in the ninth and recorded the out.

Bordick, who missed a month after fracturing his right kneecap, has committed only one error this season. "He's throwing the ball better now than before his injury," manager Mike Hargrove said. "His arm strength is better now than at any time in the last five years."

O's are hidden power

Back in spring training, Hargrove often spoke of his team's need to manufacture runs. His lineup, however it would be composed, lacked the mashers who provide instant offense with prodigious blasts.

Hargrove figured the easiest way for the Orioles to score would be with situational hitting, taking the extra base, doing the little things to disturb the opposing pitcher. Sitting back and waiting for the three-run homer, as Earl Weaver so often did, would be foolish.

So how do the Orioles enter today with 138 homers, two more than they accumulated in 2001? "Everybody can be wrong," Hargrove said.

While taking a poke at himself, Hargrove also pointed out that nobody anticipated Melvin Mora hitting 18 homers. Mora joins six other Orioles in double figures, including catcher Geronimo Gil, who hit his 10th Friday.

Just imagine if Chris Richard, Jeff Conine and David Segui had been healthy all season.

"We've got strong guys. When they get their pitch, they can hit it out of the ballpark," Hargrove said. "We don't have three, four 30-plus home runs guys in our lineup, but we do have a number of guys who can hit anywhere from 10 to 20. While we still have to run the bases aggressively and try to put pressure on teams, we also have games where we get pitches to hit, we hit them hard, we get them up in the air and they go out."

Perhaps returning Camden Yards to its original dimensions by moving the plate forward six feet is having an impact. Or the post-game spreads are packed with more protein.

"I don't know what the difference is," said Jay Gibbons, who has 23 to trail only team leader Tony Batista, who hit his 25th last night. "We've been consistent all year. Up and down the lineup, guys are hitting them."

"Maybe it's because we work hard for that," Mora said. "You work hard every day, something good's going to happen."

Chris Rock pitches, too

Actor/comedian Chris Rock filmed a scene for his movie Head of State between games, with fans who arrived early filling out the background. His character threw the ceremonial first pitch to coach Rick Dempsey.

Rock began practicing his throws about an hour before shooting the scene, which took three takes. He spoke to the crowd after finishing, shaking hands with the Oriole Bird and saying, "I love the Orioles, the only team with a black mascot."

Heat sidelines ump

Plate umpire Joe Brinkman left Game 1 after the sixth inning and was taken to University of Maryland Medical Center with a heat-related illness. Andy Fletcher, who was working second base, replaced Brinkman and left the crew a man short.

Brinkman had knee surgery two months ago.

Orioles today

Opponent:Toronto Blue Jays

Site:Camden Yards

Time:1:35 p.m.

TV/Radio:Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)

Starters:Blue Jays' Justin Miller (4-4, 6.60) vs. Orioles' Jason Johnson (4-9, 4.08)

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