Roberts doubles pleasure with switch-hitter mark

ORIOLES NOTEBOOK

47th surpasses 1901 record

Ponson eyes .500 finish

Notebook

September 19, 2004|By Joe Christensen | Joe Christensen,SUN STAFF

MINNEAPOLIS - Someday, it might be a trivia question that stumps even the most astute baseball observer: What switch-hitter holds the American League record for doubles in a season? Eddie Murray? Mickey Mantle? Nope. The new answer is Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts.

Yesterday at the Metrodome, Roberts set the mark when he notched his 47th double in the eighth inning of the Orioles' 12-3 victory over the Minnesota Twins.

The old record of 46 doubles was set in 1901 by John Anderson of the old Milwaukee Brewers. That's the pre-Bud Selig Milwaukee Brewers - the franchise that moved to St. Louis to become the Browns from 1902 to 1953 and then moved to Baltimore to become the Orioles in 1954.

"When I saw the date [1901], that's when I thought it was a little strange," Roberts said. "I know there have been some pretty good switch-hitters in this game."

Roberts hit yesterday's double batting right-handed against Twins left-hander Joe Beimel, and his teammates quickly retrieved the ball for safekeeping. Roberts has 15 doubles batting right-handed and 32 batting left-handed.

Yesterday's double also matched the Baltimore Orioles' single-season franchise record. Cal Ripken had 47 doubles in 1983.

"To have your name in the record book for anything in this league is something I'll look back on and be proud of," Roberts said.

Ponson seeks .500

After reaching the All-Star break with an abysmal 3-12 record, Sidney Ponson still has a chance to reach .500. He has lifted his record to 11-14 and has three starts left, with two scheduled against the Boston Red Sox and one against the Toronto Blue Jays.

"If I win those three starts, I'll salvage the season," Ponson said.

Ponson is 8-2 with a 3.76 ERA since the break, and while he won't be able to erase the nine-game losing streak he endured in the first half, he should go past the 200-inning mark for the fourth time in his career. In 30 starts, Ponson has piled up a team-high 196 2/3 innings.

Palmeiro update

Rafael Palmeiro was back at first base yesterday, with the Orioles facing right-hander Brad Radke, but he's likely to get benched again today against Twins lefty Johan Santana.

"The days when he's had a rest, it seems like he's come back strong," Orioles manager Lee Mazzilli said of Palmeiro, who went 0-for-2 with three walks yesterday and is batting .333 with six home runs and 16 RBIs in September.

Palmeiro still needs to play defense in 15 of the final 16 games to trigger his $4.5 million option for next year.

Santana, again

Before leaving Minnesota, the Orioles have the unenviable task of facing Santana in today's series finale. He held them to five hits in seven innings in a 9-0 victory at Camden Yards on Sept. 8, and has gone 16-2 with a 1.41 ERA in his past 19 starts.

Asked if Santana should win the Cy Young Award, Orioles right fielder Jay Gibbons said, "There's no question. I glanced at his numbers the other day in Toronto, and when you look at the strikeouts, the ERA, the wins, and where his team is, it's got to be him."

Santana leads the American League in ERA (2.76), strikeouts (240) and with 18 wins, he ranks second to Boston's Curt Schilling, who has 20.

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