Hit parade for O's

Mora's career day leads offensive surge

Orioles 16 Tigers 8

August 18, 2008|By Jeff Zrebiec | Jeff Zrebiec,SUN REPORTER

DETROIT - It started early with the first five Orioles to bat getting hits, and it didn't let up until the scoreboard was so saturated with crooked numbers that it looked like it belonged next door at Ford Field, the home of the defensively challenged Detroit Lions.

By the end of the fifth inning at Comerica Park yesterday, the Orioles had scored 13 runs and collected 14 hits. By the end of the sixth, all nine starters had batted at least four times and gotten at least one hit, making Garrett Olson's latest outing, which manager Dave Trembley described as "disturbing for me to watch," an afterthought for at least a couple of hours.

The Orioles enjoyed an offensive field day at the Detroit Tigers' expense, blasting their way to a 16-8 rout behind the most productive game of Melvin Mora's career and plenty of contributions from everybody else.

Mora tied a career high with five hits in six at-bats, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle two days after needing just a double to complete a cycle. His two home runs and four runs tied career highs, and his six RBIs set one.

"It was like The Natural. I felt like I was watching a movie," said Trembley, who thoroughly enjoyed his 100th win as Orioles manager and the club's first Sunday road win in 11 tries this season. "I really can't describe it. I got to get a tape of this one and take it home this winter. When things are not going real well, I can replay this one. This one would lift anybody's spirits."

That tape would show that the Orioles (60-63) put up a season high in runs and hits (22). Twelve of the hits were of the extra-base variety, a Comerica Park record, and five were home runs as Luke Scott also went deep twice and Aubrey Huff added one of his own.

The Orioles, who took two of three in the series, scored four runs in three innings, sending eight batters to the plate in two of them and nine batters up in another.

"Everything went our way right from the first inning," hitting coach Terry Crowley said. "The ball was going pretty good here today. It was a warm day, the wind was blowing out. The guys jumped on it."

On the seven-game road trip, which the Orioles finished at 4-3, they scored 60 runs and belted 93 hits. No Oriole - or anybody on the planet outside of Michael Phelps - is hotter than Mora, who went 15-for-32 on the trip with 13 RBIs and three homers among his eight extra-base hits.

In the three-game series against Detroit, Mora was 10-for-13 with three homers and 10 RBIs. In 28 games since the All-Star break, he has eight homers and 43 RBIs.

"It's like whatever he wants to do, he's doing it right now," said Huff, who has been pretty locked in himself. "I've never seen anybody this hot before in my life."

"Melvin is beyond [words]," Nick Markakis said. "I couldn't even tell you. He's swinging the bat so well right now. It's just fun being on his side watching it."

Said Crowley, who has spent 22 years as a major league hitting coach: "I'd have to stop and think about [if I've ever seen] somebody as hot as he is right now."

In a game in which both starters - Olson and Detroit's Zach Miner - failed to get out of the second inning and 138 pitches were needed for each team to get six outs, Mora hit an RBI single in the first inning, a solo homer in the fourth, a two-run double in the fifth, another double in the sixth and a two-run homer in the eighth.

His solo shot in the fourth broke a tie and returned the momentum to the Orioles after they had built a 5-1 lead only to watch Olson give it all back. The rookie left-hander allowed five earned runs on four hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings, going to three-ball counts on all seven hitters he faced in Detroit's four-run second inning.

It was a performance that might have cost Olson a spot in the rotation and earned him a trip to Triple-A Norfolk. But those are decisions for another day. The Orioles were too busy enjoying the type of offensive game that doesn't happen too often.

"There are very few games where a hitting coach can be happy because some days you can beat a team pretty good and you'll get 12 hits and there are three guys that are 0-fer," Crowley said. "You're always worried about something."

Not yesterday.

jeff.zrebiec@baltsun.com

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