It's natural to suppose that Mickey Tettleton has a point to prove each time he comes to the plate against the Orioles.
After all, the Orioles dealt him to the Detroit Tigers for next to nothing -- since-departed pitcher Jeff Robinson -- after the 1990 season, just one year removed from his breakthrough, 25-homer 1989 campaign.
But Tettleton said his ninth-inning triple yesterday -- which gave Detroit a 6-5 win in the second game of a doubleheader and ended the Orioles' division title quest -- was nothing personal.
"I don't think it was," Tettleton said. "We haven't had a lot of success here and it was nice to come here and play well."
Orioles fans might have preferred that Tettleton, whose triple to left-center drove in pinch runner Kirk Gibson, hadn't played so well against his former team.
His and Detroit's play was not the norm, as the Tigers earned the first three-game sweep of the year by a Camden Yards visitor and their first three wins ever at the 2-year-old ballpark by winning Friday and sweeping yesterday.
"It took two years to win one game," said Tettleton. "It's nice to get the day over with. It was a long day."
Said reliever Mike Henneman: "We win the final game in the old stadium and come in here and don't win for two years. It was on our mind and we wanted to win the first day and get it off our minds."
After the game, the Tigers claimed not to take any satisfaction out of crushing the Orioles' faint playoff aspirations.
"There's no joy. That's what the game is made for. That's the way the game is designed," said Detroit manager Sparky Anderson.
"It's your job as a team to do your best," said Henneman, who got the win in the second game, striking out pinch hitter Chris Hoiles in the eighth with a runner on third. "We owed it to Toronto and New York to try to win. We're still trying to win ballgames."
Indeed, the Tigers, who moved within a game of the Orioles for third place in the division, are two games behind the second-place Yankees and play them next weekend in New York to close the season.
The Tigers, who meet the Red Sox in Boston beginning tonight, could pass the Orioles and Yankees with a good final week and receive a share of postseason money that extends to second- and third-place teams.
"We have to play well in Boston," said Anderson. "The Yankees and Baltimore play, and one of those two is going to lose."
If Travis Fryman is as hot at Fenway Park as he was at Camden Yards, the Tigers could be upwardly mobile. Fryman blistered Orioles pitching for nine hits in 13 at-bats this weekend, raising his batting average from .295 to .304.
Fryman was 3-for-5 in the first game yesterday and 4-for-5 with two RBI in the second game, scoring once in each contest.
"He has been hitting awfully well all year," said Anderson. "He's one of the three best third basemen in the game, right up there with [the Chicago White Sox's Robin] Ventura and [the San Francisco Giants'] Matt Williams."