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Around-the-Horn triple play a keeper


Sam Horn hit a triple yesterday.

In case you don't grasp the significance of this epochal event -- and I'm guessing you don't -- allow me to offer some perspective.

Beethoven wrote nine symphonies. Horn has hit one triple.

Nolan Ryan has pitched seven no-hitters. Horn has hit one triple.

There have been three "Godfather" movies, two world wars and one Sam Horn triple.

Some will remember yesterday's game as the end of a nine-game Camden Yards winning streak.

I'll remember it as the game in which Kevin Reimer couldn't hold Scramblin' Sammy's shot to left and Horn kept running and running and running and running and running and -- my God, where is third base? -- running till he finally made it to third. It was his first triple in 879 big-league at-bats.

"Amazing," Randy Milligan said.

A game is just a game. Losses happen, if only occasionally to these Orioles. Even Ryan, the great one, passes through town more often than Horn's hitting a ball and sliding into third on the same play.

In fact, you're pretty hard-pressed to find something that doesn't happen more often than a Horn triple. As an example, the fall of communism comes to mind. But there are a few things. Say stolen bases. He's never had one. Say sacrifice bunts. He doesn't have one of those either. Face it, you wouldn't say Horn plays a finesse game. Jean Claude van Damme plays him in the movie. He hits homers. He hits prodigious homers.

But when Horn sliced a ball to the outfield in the first inning, and the graceful Kevin Reimer did his pas de deux with the left-field grass, the ball bouncing out of his glove, the field forcing the fumble, Horn was determined to make history.

"I'm getting three, no matter what," Horn would say later of his thoughts as he cleared second.

He was flying. The problem was in the landing.

"I think we need to ask him about that slide," Gregg Olson said.

"He needs work on his sliding bad," Milligan said.

"What slide?" Johnny Oates said. "You mean his lay-down?"

The Orioles were happy to kid Horn. The Orioles had a 3-0 lead in the first and lost, 5-3, to Jeff Robinson, who pitched five innings of shutout relief. That's the kind of thing that should get you down, but how can the Orioles be down about anything? The answer is that they're not.

They're not even considering that Horn's triple may have fractured the time-space continuum and could send the team into a tailspin.

It was one game, and an interesting one at that. It's always interesting when you see Nolan Ryan, who, at 45, probably won't be around for more than another five years or so. He started the game by yielding a walk, an RBI single and a two-run homer to Cal Ripken. Then came Horn's triple. That must have made him angry. He hit Mike Devereaux and then struck out Chris Hoiles and Joe Orsulak before getting Leo Gomez to fly out.

It was pretty wonderful watching Ryan at work. Oates said that his fastball got about a yard longer after the Horn triple. Unfortunately, we didn't get to see the fastball, which goes only about 93 these days, for long. They stopped the game after the second inning when it started to rain. An hour delay put Ryan out of work.

We did, however, get to watch the new Prescription Athletic Turf suck down that rain and avoid a rainout. Now, all they need is Prescription Athletic Dirt because, in the rain, the dirt turned to mud and threatened to get the new ballpark messy.

What we didn't see was Glenn Davis. We didn't see him in the ninth inning with two on, two out, Mark McLemore batting and the Orioles down by two. McLemore is the team's leading hitter, of course. And, also, Davis hasn't batted for a month. Oates says it would be unfair to use him in a pressure situation until he gets a few swings. It may not be unfair to wonder if Davis is rushing himself back.

Another thing to wonder is what will happen when Davis returns to the lineup. As we know, there is not room for Davis, Horn and Milligan in the same lineup. It's pretty clear that Milligan has to play ahead of Horn, even at Camden Yards, where the short right-field porch seemed to call for a left-handed DH. In fact, the ball has been flying out of the park to left field, to Milligan's power.

But that's another day's concern. The big deal yesterday was Horn's triple.

"I didn't want to go through my baseball career without one," he said.

Horn won't have to now. And 45,481 people who crowded into Camden Yards yesterday were there to see history in the making, and a glimpse of Nolan Ryan as well.

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