KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- If they didn't play baseball, the Orioles would be meat-cutters, or lumberjacks. Something messy. They cannot win without bludgeoning.
The Kansas City Royals led 4-1 after five innings before going on the chopping block, and the Orioles hacked away. Four runs in the sixth inning, eight runs in the eighth, and the Orioles ended a seven-game road trip by crushing the Royals, 13-5, in a game halted more than an hour by a thunderstorm.
Brady Anderson hit two homers, his 23rd and 24th of the year, drove in five runs and scored four. Anderson now ranks second in the majors in home runs, behind Cleveland's Albert Belle, who has 25.
Anderson homered leading off the game, his eighth leadoff homer of the year, leaving him one short of the American League record set by Rickey Henderson in 1986. The major-league record is 11, set by the San Francisco Giants' Bobby Bonds in 1973.
"Brady had a heck of a game," said Orioles manager Davey Johnson. "He always tries to swing hard. I just hope he doesn't swing harder."
Luis Polonia, Gregg Zaun, Cal Ripken and Bobby Bonilla each had three hits among the 18 by the Orioles. Rookie pitcher Rocky Coppinger allowed seven hits and four runs over six innings, and as the beneficiary of the Orioles' skillful use of their blunt instruments, he improved his record to 2-0.
"Rocky was better than he was in Detroit [in his debut last week]," said Johnson, "and this is a peskier offensive team. . . I thought he threw a lot of good pitches."
The Orioles finished their generally lackluster seven-game road trip through Detroit and Kansas City on a good note. They managed four wins against two of the majors' worst teams.
The Orioles often seem to play in cruise control, at 35 mph, as if they know they can turn it on quickly, and they did against Kansas City, after falling behind.
Anderson homered leading off the game, and for four innings after that, the Orioles fell into a funk. They failed to capitalize on opportunities in the second, fourth and fifth innings. Polonia singled one out into the fifth and advanced to second on a grounder. Royals pitcher Tim Belcher then fired a 3-2 fastball to Rafael Palmeiro over the head of catcher Mike Macfarlane, the ball thumping against to the backstop and bouncing awkwardly toward third.
Polonia raced toward third, and, rounding the bag, saw a chance to make something happen, be aggressive, light a fire. What he did not think about, apparently, was staying at third and having the hot-swinging Bonilla at the plate with runners at first and third with two out.
Polonia sped homeward, and Royals third baseman Joe Randa flipped the ball to Macfarlane. Polonia was out by seven or eight feet, and Bonilla, standing near the on-deck circle, dropped his bat and helmet and walked onto the field.
But the Orioles came back in the sixth. They always seem to come back, even if they don't always win. Ripken, B.J. Surhoff and Zaun hit consecutive singles with one out in the sixth. Bases loaded.
Royals manager Bob Boone stood at the left edge of the dugout, pondering his options. He had left-hander Jason Jacome warming up. However, with the right-handed hitting Jeffrey Hammonds coming up, Boone certainly would leave the right-handed Belcher in for one more hitter.
Belcher pumped fastballs, got ahead 0-2 and subsequently sliced the outside plane of the strike zone with another fastball to whiff Hammonds looking. Now Boone had to decide whether he would let Belcher face Anderson, the next hitter, or call for Jacome.
Anderson walked to the left-handed side of the box, took a couple of practice swings. His name was announced. Belcher stepped to the crown of the mound and began to focus on his catcher, and this is when Boone came out of the dugout to pull him.
When Belcher finally realized what was happening, he turned and appeared to curse, and expressed his feelings to Boone when the manager got to the mound. Belcher finally handed the ball to Boone, headed to the dugout, still talking, and sat and watched a starting pitcher's horror show.
Jacome made Anderson look terrible with his first two pitches, two quick strikes. But Anderson poked a breaking ball over the head of Royals second baseman Keith Lockhart. Ripken and Surhoff scored, and, on the bench, Belcher seethed. Polonia singled, Zaun scored the tying run, and Belcher, seeing his win go down the drain, flipped a towel in disgust.
It got worse. Roberto Alomar hit an easy chopper to sure-handed shortstop David Howard, and Howard bobbled the ball, allowing Anderson to race home with the go-ahead run.
"Any time your team goes out and scores that many runs," Coppinger said, "that's going to help."
The Orioles built a snowman in the eighth inning, a rally highlighted by Zaun's two-run triple and Anderson's second homer, a two-run shot.
Kansas City was under storm warnings all night, and thunder and lightning hit Kauffman Stadium as the Orioles took the field for the bottom of the ninth.
After a rain delay of more than an hour, reliever Alan Mills finished out the game, and the Orioles headed home.
Opponent: Texas Rangers
Site: Oriole Park
Time: 7: 35
TV/Radio: HTS/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Rangers' Roger Pavlik (9-1, 5.01) vs. Orioles' Scott Erickson (3-5, 5.79)
Tickets: 3,600 remain
Pub Date: 6/17/96