Brady Anderson reminded himself to stay calm as he batted in the late innings last night. Nothing like asking the impossible, when he was caught up in an emotional whirlwind.
No one could dream up a crazy game like the Orioles' 12-11, 10-inning victory over Oakland last night. The Orioles fell behind 3-1, jumped ahead 8-3 in a rally that included three homers and a knockdown pitch to Cal Ripken, fell behind 10-8, tied the game in the bottom of the ninth, blew a chance to win the game in the ninth, fell behind again in the 10th -- before winning in the bottom of the 10th on an RBI triple by Anderson and a bases-loaded walk to Ripken.
The Orioles vaulted over the Chicago White Sox in the wild-card race, and lead by a half-game. All nine starting players for the Orioles scored at least one run, and eight of nine scored for Oakland.
Orioles manager Davey Johnson was remarkably sedate after the game. "I can't get excited any more," said Johnson, hospitalized with an irregular heartbeat last week. "The doctor told me."
Oakland took an 11-10 lead in the top of the 10th, when Mike Bordick singled home pinch runner Rafael Bournigal. But Athletics reliever Mark Acre hit Chris Hoiles with a pitch leading off the 10th for the Orioles. Mike Devereaux bunted pinch runner Manny Alexander to second. After Roberto Alomar struck out, Anderson -- hyped by the roaring crowd and reminding himself to stay cool -- ripped a triple into the right-center-field gap, tying the game.
"It was probably as loud as I've heard it," Anderson said.
Acre said: "It comes down to one pitch. I threw a good forkball, and Brady smoked it."
Oakland intentionally walked Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Bonilla to load the bases, and Acre completely lost control, throwing four balls in five pitches to Ripken -- the last a ball that knocked Ripken on his back. The crowd of 43,361 exploded, and Acre walked off, dejected.
Oakland led 10-8 after Tony Batiste hit a two-run homer off Alan Mills in the eighth. But Alomar led off the Orioles' ninth with a single. Doug Johns replaced Buddy Groom, one left-hander relieving another, to face Anderson. Oakland's outfield shifted to right, because Anderson never hits the ball into the left-field corner.
He did this time, hitting a looper that barely eluded the dive of left fielder Phil Plantier. By the time Plantier relayed the ball back to the infield, Alomar had scored and Anderson was on third.
Palmeiro smacked a liner that hit the chalk of the first base line, and rolled into the corner; Anderson trotted home with the tying run. Oakland intentionally walked Bonilla, and Acre relieved Johns to face Ripken.
Ripken tried to bunt the runners along, but popped out. B. J. Surhoff flied to center, the second out. Eddie Murray banged a hard shot to right, but Brian Lesher caught it in front of the scoreboard.
L "I thought we had it won in the ninth inning," Johnson said.
The Orioles led 8-3 after an emotional third inning, in which Palmeiro and Bonilla hit back-to-back homers, Ripken was knocked down with a pitch, and Chris Hoiles hit a grand slam.
Oakland came back to tie the game, Matt Stairs' bases-empty homer knotting the score at 8-all in the seventh. Phil Plantier led off the eighth with a single off Alan Mills, and moved to second on a wild pitch. Mills retired the next two hitters, but Batista crushed a two-run homer to left, his second homer of the game.
Mills was at the end of a long and emotional day, and seething. His wife Shareese had given birth to the couple's first child earlier -- a boy named Tyson. Mills knocked down Scott Brosius with his next pitch, a fastball over Brosius' head. Home plate umpire John Shulock, who had warned both teams against any more knockdowns after Ripken went down, went to the mound and talked with Mills.
The knockdown pitch to Ripken may have stemmed from the five-game series in Oakland the weekend of Aug. 15-18. The Orioles blasted the Athletics in the first two games of that series, 18-5 and 14-3, and some Oakland players privately felt the Orioles swaggered unnecessarily through those blowouts, showboating as they circled the bases. Oakland really did nothing to express their displeasure in that series, other than coming back and winning the last two games.
But either the A's found the need to address this in the third inning last night, or Wasdin lost his cool, or he suddenly lost his control on a fastball that would've rearranged Ripken's teeth.
With two outs in the third and a runner on first, Palmeiro homered and then Bonilla homered.
Ripken stepped in to hit, and whether intentional or not, the very first pitch Wasdin threw him knocked him on his rear. The 43,361 at Camden Yards roared in anger; you don't throw at Cal in Cal's house.
Ripken glanced out to the mound and he gathered himself, and Wasdin stood on the mound, shoulders squared to home plate, his face expressionless. Shulock immediately moved out in front of home and pointed his finger at Wasdin.
A's manager Art Howe came out to discuss the warning with Shulock, and as they talked, there was another conference going on, between Ripken and Steinbach, players with mutual admiration. Ripken dug at the dirt with his right foot, looking down, and Steinbach had his head turned upward.
Johnson said he thought Wasdin threw at Ripken. "It's the natural thing to try to do," Johnson said. "It's not necessarily meant as a malicious pitch, but . . . any game I've played in and they've hit back-to-back homers and [the next pitch] is a neck ball, it's a warning."
Ripken had the perfect answer for Wasdin, slamming a single to left. Surhoff doubled Ripken to third. Howe elected to intentionally walk Murray to load the bases and replace Wasdin with right-hander Carlos Reyes, and Wasdin trudged off the field to violent boos.
Hoiles moved ahead in the count 3-1 and had the luxury of sitting on a fastball, and he unloaded to deep left-center, the eighth grand slam of the year, tying a club record. The Orioles led 8-3.
But the outcome was far from decided.
Pub Date: 8/27/96