Ripken starts day in a slump, ends in a tear
KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Baltimore Orioles shortstop Cal Ripken was in an 0-for-18 slump until a bloop single in the sixth inning of yesterday's first game. By the end of the long day, Ripken had gotten six hits in 11 at-bats and had reclaimed the American League batting lead with a .350 average.
Ripken delivered four straight hits in the first game, then added two in the second game. The slump had dropped him behind Oakland Athletics designated hitter Harold Baines, but did not approach his all-time hitless streak, an 0-for-29 run in April 1988.
In addition to the sixth-inning hit, Ripken's day included a run-scoring triple, a double and another single, plus two singles in the second game to run his league-leading total of multiple-hit
games to 33.
McDonald to start again in AAA
Right-hander Ben McDonald will make at least one more start for the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings before returning to the major-league rotation.
McDonald rejoined the Orioles after his three-inning appearance against the Pawtucket Red Sox, but he will return to Rochester, N.Y., tomorrow and pitch again Wednesday. The club probably will make a decision after he returns to Baltimore on Thursday.
The Orioles are eager to have him back in the starting rotation, but there is room to wonder if the elbow soreness is something that the club will have to deal with throughout the season.
McDonald said that he felt very good after his minor-league start Friday night but that he still is experiencing occasional elbow stiffness.
"I felt better after I threw this time," he said. "I had some stiffness after the last simulated game [last Monday], and I was worried, because it felt so good for two weeks. I woke up stiff Tuesday, and it wasn't much better Wednesday. But I felt fine when I woke up yesterday.
"The doctor has told me that it might be one of those things where the stiffness won't totally go away until I rest it a couple of months during the off-season."
In the meantime, McDonald says he has overcome the psychological obstacles that contributed to his rocky performance after he returned from a first stay on the disabled list.
"Mentally, I was all screwed up," he said. "I was out there throwing and at the same time wondering if I was tearing up my arm. When I go out there now, I won't be thinking that."
Third baseman Leo Gomez sprained his right ankle running the bases in Saturday night's game and was held out of the doubleheader yesterday. He could miss some of the upcoming series against the Cleveland Indians.
Precautionary X-rays showed that he suffered only a slight sprain when he tried to change direction after rounding first base.
"It'll be a couple of days," Gomez said. "They took some pictures and everything is all right. With the day off tomorrow, I think Tuesday I'll be able to play."
If not, the club will have to consider recalling Craig Worthington, who has been playing well during his injury rehabilitation assignment to Rochester.
Tim Hulett started at third base yesterday. If anything had prevented him from playing, second baseman Bill Ripken probably would have moved over to fill in.
Williamson has rough return
Right-hander Mark Williamson, who was hit on the forearm by a line drive Thursday night, returned to the mound in both games of the doubleheader, but he didn't exactly get comfortable out there.
Williamson came on to pitch the eighth inning after the Orioles had come back from a 5-0 deficit to make it a one-run game. He gave up a one-out home run to catcher Mike MacFarlane and surrendered another run on back-to-back two-out hits by Terry Shumpert and Brian McRae before giving way to left-hander Paul Kilgus.
In the second game, came on in the seventh and gave up three runs on three hits with two walks in 1 1/3 innings, leaving with the bases loaded and none out in the ninth.
Before Williamson was injured Thursday, he had given up one earned run in his previous 21 2/3 innings.
A Cal of a day
How Cal Ripken fared in yesterday's doubleheader:
R.. H.. RBI
Game 1... 6.. 2.. 4.. 1
Game 2... 5.. 3.. 2.. 0
Total... 11.. 5.. 6.. 1
The Royals' first-game battery took some lumps. Starter KeviAppier was hit on the shin by a line drive in the third inning and MacFarlane was hit in the groin area with a foul tip. . . . Hulett also broke an 0-for streak with a single in the first game. He was hitless in 15 at-bats when he looped a single to center in the third inning.