Marathon brings Rochester's 33-inning game to mind


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Not everybody in the Orioles' clubhouse was ready to admit that yesterday was the weirdest day of baseball they had ever seen.

"I have," said trainer Richie Bancells, in the manager's office when John Oates was asked if he'd ever seen anything to top the Orioles' extra-inning doubleheader win over the Kansas City Royals.

"So have Rip [Cal Ripken Jr.] and Bod [Kansas City pitcher Mike Boddicker]," said Bancells, elaborating on his even more unforgettable experience.

What could possibly top the 22 innings of comeback ball that produced an 11-8 win in 10 innings and a 9-8 victory in 12 innings?

"Thirty-two innings," was all Bancells said. He was talking about the all-time record 33-inning game played by the Orioles' Rochester Triple A farm team 10 years ago. All but one inning of that game was played on a miserable cold night/morning in Pawtucket, R.I.

"You'd have to go a long way to top that one," said Bancells, who was the Rochester trainer at the time.

Ripken wasn't quite as emphatic as Bancells, but admitted the 32-inning experience was in its own class. "The only thing stranger about that game was the fact that we played so long," said Ripken. "Other than that there really wasn't that much.

"This was strange because you had two of the game's best closers [Gregg Olson and Jeff Montgomery] and two big leads being blown," said Ripken.

The Orioles used six pitchers in each game and the only relievers who didn't work in both were lefthanders Kevin Hickey (who missed the first) and Mike Flanagan (who didn't appear in the second).

"Six or seven more years of this stuff and I'm getting out," quipped Flanagan, whose pro career dates back to 1973.

* MILACKI'S MASTERPIECE: Lest we forget the stark contrast, Bob Milacki needed only 72 pitches while going eight innings in ** Saturday night's 1-0 win over the Royals. In the process the righthander threw first-pitch strikes to 20 of the 25 batters he faced.

"That's what he's supposed to do," said Oates. "That game and the one he pitched against Minnesota and faced only 27 hitters [in 1989] are the two best he's pitched since I've been here."

Oates has been trying to impress upon Milacki (3-2) the importance of getting ahead in the count. "His stuff is good enough, but not good enough that he can constantly pitch with 2-and-0 and 3-and-1 counts," said Oates. "He's a better pitcher than he's shown and we've got to keep him on track."

* TRASHING THE ERA: The first game of yesterday's doubleheader was unkind to the earned run averages of a few relief pitchers. The Orioles' Mark Williamson gave up three runs in two-thirds of an inning and his ERA jumped from 3.45 to 4.00.

However, that was nothing compared to the damage suffered by Steve Crawford and Jeff Montgomery, the setup man and closer, respectively, for the Royals. Crawford gave up three runs without retiring a batter to see his ERA go from 3.99 to 4.91. Montgomery scored highest of the three, being charged with seven earned runs in 2 2/3 innings and his ERA soared from 3.69 to 4.99.

For Crawford, and Williamson it didn't get much better in the second game. Crawford gave up four more runs in 2 2/3 innings to inflate his ERA to 5.63. Williamson was charged with three runs in 1 1/3 innings, pumping his ERA to 4.47.

* RAMBLING WITH RIP: Cal Ripken's stretch as the American League's leading hitter was temporarily interrupted in a strange way over the weekend. After breaking an 0-for-13 streak with a single in the first inning Friday night, Ripken lost that hit to a rainout and was 0-for-18 when he batted in the sixth inning of yesterday's first game. His average had dropped to .339, four points below Oakland's Harold Baines.

However, by the time the Orioles had finished off their wild 11-8 win, Ripken had collected four straight hits, boosting his average to .350. He got two more hits in the nightcap to go 6-for-11, staying at .350, seven points ahead of Baines. He leads the major leagues with 33 multi-hit games.

* THIS 'N THAT: Ben McDonald, recovering from elbow problems, will return to Rochester tomorrow, where he will pitch again Wednesday.

Before Saturday night, Flanagan was the last Orioles pitcher to win a 1-0 game -- on July 19, 1986.

Brady Anderson had his first home run of the season in the 10th inning of yesterday's opener and tied an Orioles' club record by scoring four runs.

The nine extra-base hits by the Orioles in the first game were a season-high. The Orioles also had 17 hits, also a season-high -- until they got 18 in the second game.

Leo Gomez missed both games yesterday because of a slightly sprained right ankle. Gomez turned his ankle on the seam of the artificial turf at Royals Stadium Saturday night and is on a day-to-day basis.

Randy Milligan had four hits in yesterday's nightcap -- and didn't get into the game until the seventh inning.

Ex-Oriole Storm Davis was the loser in yesterday's second game, his 15-inning scoreless streak ending in the 12th inning.

Yesterday's first game took three hours and 44 minutes, the second required four hours and 27 minutes -- with a 30-minute intermission. These things are getting to be a habit with the Royals. The last time they played a Sunday game at home, two weeks ago, they went 18 innings against Texas.

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