Fittingly, in a week that had all the Orioles hitting like stars, the team's perennial All-Star swung the hottest bat of all and slammed the door shut on the week in grand fashion.
On the day it was announced Cal Ripken would be the American League's starting shortstop for the 11th consecutive season in the All-Star Game, he hit the team's first grand slam of 1994, lifting the Orioles to a 10-3 victory over the California Angels yesterday before 47,092 at Camden Yards.
Ripken's third career grand slam highlighted a six-run third inning as the Orioles remained 3 1/2 games behind the first-place New York Yankees in the American League East.
In a sense, Ripken cooled off slightly. For the first time all week, he did not have at least two hits yesterday, though he made his one, the slam to right-center off of Angels left-hander Brian Anderson, a huge one.
Ripken came to the plate with the bases loaded and the score tied, 1-1. Anderson threw ball one to Ripken, who was visibly upset at consecutive strike calls that put him behind in the count, battled his way back to a full count and ripped Anderson's final pitch for a grand slam.
Ripken need apologize to no one for playing every day, for blowing away the competition in the All-Star voting, for anything at all, really.
His numbers say all that needs to be said. Ripken is hitting .312 with 12 home runs and 61 RBIs. Last season, he was hitting .229 with 12 home runs and 45 RBIs at the All-Star break.
"If you feel deserving, obviously you feel better going into the game," Ripken said. "Last year, I was struggling. I didn't feel real good about my first half. I feel much better this year."
Not to mention this past week.
Unlike in most of the rest of the business world, baseball weeks run from Monday through Sunday, not Sunday through Saturday. The Orioles averaged 6.9 runs for the week, despite California left-hander Mark Langston shutting them out on three hits Saturday night.
Ripken was right at the front of the pack of hot hitters.
He went 16-for-31 with three home runs and 11 RBIs in seven games. Nine of his 12 home runs have come in the Orioles' past 31 games.
"Once you get a home run swing going, they tend to come in bunches," Ripken said.
The entire team has produced them in bunches of late. The Orioles have homered in 18 of their past 19 games and have hit 45 in their past 27 games, including three yesterday.
Angels left-hander Craig Lefferts replaced Anderson (5-4, 6.10) after Ripken's grand slam and served home run No. 15 to Chris Hoiles, the second batter Lefferts faced.
Leading off the fifth, Leo Gomez deposited the last pitch from Lefferts over the center-field fence, No. 11 for Gomez, the Orioles' most pleasant first-half surprise.
Rafael Palmeiro (4-for-5, two runs, one RBI) and Brady Anderson (3-for-4, a run, a triple, stolen base No. 19) also contributed largely to the Orioles' 14-hit day.
Left-hander Arthur Rhodes made the start for the Orioles, his second since returning from Triple-A Rochester, but he couldn't answer the bell for the fourth inning.
Rhodes allowed run-scoring singles to Bo Jackson in the first and third innings -- a little something to tell the grandchildren decades from now -- hits that came more than two hours apart, thanks to a rain delay that kicked in after two innings and lasted for one hour, 49 minutes.
"He had some back spasms," Orioles manager Johnny Oates said. "He told me after the game he could just not get it loose, but he said it feels fine now."
No sweat, because Mark Williamson (3-0) was on hand for another one of his bailouts. Williamson allowed one run in five innings for the victory and Mike Oquist pitched a scoreless ninth.
The Angels ran through six pitchers as the Orioles followed their six-run third with a run in the fifth inning, on Gomez's home run, and two runs in the sixth, driven in by a Palmeiro double and a Harold Baines grounder.
Palmeiro, looking like an All-Star even if he wasn't selected, continued his remarkable day-game production. He is batting .484 with six home runs and 21 RBIs in 23 day games. The left-handed hitter also regularly has abused left-handed pitching, hitting .378 with six home runs and 17 RBIs in 98 at-bats.
In 11 day games at Camden Yards, Palmeiro is batting .543 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
Palmeiro has done nearly everything but hit a grand slam under daylight.
Ripken took care of that.
"That was our first grand slam," Oates noted. "We were the only team without a grand slam and we're one of only two teams without a shutout. We got our grand slam. Now let's start working on a shutout."
The Orioles ought to practice patience in pursuit of the latter. Starting today, Ken Griffey's in town for three days.
Opponent: Seattle Mariners
Site: Oriole Park at Camden Yards
Time: 5:05 p.m.
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Mariners' Chris Bosio (3-9, 4.22) vs. Orioles' Sid Fernandez (4-4, 4.44)
Tickets: Several hundred scattered singles remain, not including bleacher and 275 standing-room tickets that go on sale when the gates open.