McDonald's speed quickens Fielder's HR pace


DETROIT -- A fastball that sometimes gets up to 95 mph normally wouldn't help a hitter who is struggling, but that might have been the case with Cecil Fielder last night.

Not that Fielder is actually struggling. He does have eight home runs and 31 runs batted in. "But I should be better than a .240 hitter," he said.

Part of the problem, according to Fielder, is that he's been using too much of his ample body and not enough of his arms. "[Ben] McDonald is so quick that I think it actually helped me get my hands and arms moving faster," said Fielder.

Not that he had that many chances against McDonald. One was enough. Fielder's second home run leading off the second started a six-run inning for the Tigers. It apparently also had some carryover effect because he hit a two-run shot off Bob Milacki two innings later.

* TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE: By the time the Orioles scored last night they already trailed 8-0. It's getting to be a habit.

Cal Ripken (a two-run HR) and Sam Horn hit back-to-back homers off Bill Gullickson in the eighth inning, but all that did was get the righthander out of the game.

Gullickson (5-2) lasted 7 2/3 innings, his longest outing of the year.

* LONG TIME, NO DRAMA: Tim Hulett's game-winning, ninth-inning home run two nights ago was the first such dramatic act for the Orioles in almost a year. The last time the Orioles came from behind to win in the ninth inning was last July 16, when they beat Texas 7-6.

In games in which they were trailing after six innings this year, the Orioles were 0-21 before Hulett's homer.

* FIVE-RUN MAGIC: Detroit manager Sparky Anderson keeps harping that five runs is too many for his pitchers to give up in a game. He has good reason.

When the Tigers score five or more runs they are 14-2. Whethey don't they are 4-17.

* THE BUNT BRIGADE: It should be no surprise that Brady Anderson shares the Orioles' team lead with three bunt hits. The co-leader, however, might shock a few people.

Cal Ripken, a very adept bunter though he seldom practices the art, also has three bunt singles (in four attempts). A year ago Ripken had one bunt hit all season.

* THIS 'N THAT: Bill Ripken is the latest Oriole to join the injured list. The second baseman was a late scratch last night because of a strained hamstring muscle.

Juan Bell, who replaced Ripken in the starting lineup, had gone 0-for-15 before getting a single and double in his first two at-bats last night.

Gullickson has made nine starts for the Tigers and has yet to surrender a lead. The only two times he's been behind resulted in losses to Minnesota rookie Scott Erickson.

The Orioles had a mini-workout planned for today's off-day. They open a six-game homestand against the Yankees and Indians tomorrow.

Sparky Anderson didn't see much of Ben McDonald last night, but it didn't change his opinion of the Orioles' righthander. "There aren't five arms in baseball better than that one," said Anderson. "That's the best fastball we've seen all year." McDonald's only other start against the Tigers resulted in a three-hit, 2-1 victory over Jack Morris last year.

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