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TONIGHT: Ripken is only home run away from rare shortstop milestone


One more swing will do it. The Orioles' Cal Ripken is only one home run away from becoming the fourth shortstop in major-league history to hit 30.

Ripken clubbed No. 29 Saturday night against the Cleveland Indians, establishing a career-high. He hit 28 in his rookie year of 1982.

The only shortstops who have hit 30 home runs are Ernie Banks of the Chicago Cubs, Rico Petrocelli of the Boston Red Sox and Vern Stephens, also of the Red Sox. Banks did it five times, with a high of 47 in 1958. Petrocelli did it most recently, with 40 in 1969.

Ripken is on the verge of becoming the eighth Oriole to reach 30 home runs. Eddie Murray did it five times, Boog Powell four, Frank Robinson three, Jim Gentile twice and Gus Triandos, Ken Singleton and Larry Sheets once each.

Mike Devereaux is one home run shy of a lesser milestone. His 18 home runs are high for an Orioles leadoff batter since Don Buford hit 19 in 1971. His 18 top American League leadoff batters.

The Orioles' six-game road trip that opens against the Red Sox tonight in Boston marks the start of a stretch during which they will play 13 of their next 16 games on the road. After three games in Boston and three in Cleveland, the Orioles will be home for three with the Red Sox before traveling to Detroit and New York. There are only six home games at Memorial Stadium remaining, the final three Oct. 4-6 against Detroit.

Mike Mussina (3-4, 3.71) will open tonight (7:35, Ch. 2) against Boston's Tom Bolton (8-7, 4.67). It'll be Jose Mesa (5-10, 5.96) against Kevin Morton (5-3, 4.69) tomorrow night and Dave Johnson (4-5, 6.92) against Mike Gardiner (8-7, 4.91) Wednesday night.

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