As Bonilla goes from zero to hero, Angelos gets last word


CLEVELAND -- Bobby Bo made two errors. Davey Johnson cheered.

Bobby Bo scored the go-ahead run. Peter Angelos cheered louder.

If the Orioles' manager and owner couldn't make it to the World Series, at least their dispute over Bonilla did.

You could almost hear Johnson burst out in laughter last night after Bonilla made a costly fourth-inning error at third base.

And you could almost hear Angelos shout for joy when Bonilla hustled from first to third on his strained left hamstring in the ninth, then scored on a throwing error by Cleveland center fielder Marquis Grissom.

The Florida Marlins desperately needed this game with rookies Tony Saunders and Livan Hernandez pitching the next two nights, and Bonilla was in the middle of everything.

In the end, he was a courageous hero.

Johnson can't catch a break.

As usual, Angelos gets the last word.

Heck, Bonilla even contributed a stellar defensive play in the sixth, saving a run with a spectacular diving stop that would have made Brooks Robinson proud.

It's the Weird Series, all right.

Bobby Bo is turning into Kirk Gibson!

Some might ask why Bonilla was even in the field when he was suffering from a leg injury, but that would just start another argument.

"Because he's a blood-and-guts gamer," Angelos would say.

"Because he's too selfish to be a designated hitter," Johnson might counter.

Let Davey and Peter squabble.

If Bobby's happy, we're happy.

He won the Florida media's "Good Guy Award," didn't he?

Bonilla's state of mind is more important than his injury, more important than his team, more important than life itself.

Florida manager Jim Leyland wouldn't dare disturb Bonilla at a time like this -- he doesn't want his cleanup hitter to suffer a nervous breakdown.

Heck, Leyland didn't even summon a pinch runner after Bonilla drew a leadoff walk with the score tied in the ninth.

A better runner probably would not have drawn a throw on Darren Daulton's single, but Grissom thought he could nail Bonilla at third.

"I felt just staying at second, I couldn't score on a single -- I was probably station-to-station," Bonilla said. "I said, 'Try it, just go ahead and try it.' "

On a night in which the World Series participants combined for six errors and 17 walks, why not?

"He wasn't quite sure he wanted to go because of his leg," Leyland said. "It was almost like he had a flash -- he was in the World Series."

Bonilla limped home after Grissom's throw glanced off his jersey and landed in a camera well -- and later delivered a two-out, two-run single to cap the Marlins' seven-run ninth.

Asked if Bonilla will be his DH in Game 4 tonight, Leyland said: "He's playing third base, period. Unless something, you know "

Leyland paused and smiled.

"He's playing third."

Johnson, of course, tried Bonilla as a DH with the Orioles last season, and Johnson's relationship with Angelos still hasn't recovered.

Bonilla remains one of Angelos' favorite players -- so much so that it seems the owner regrets the Orioles' decision to lose the slugger to free agency.

Just last week, Angelos told the Washington Times: "Even his detractors would have to admit he would have helped us this season."

That might be true, but only because Eric Davis sat out most of the season with colon cancer, not that Angelos wants to hear it.

Anyway, after four innings last night, it appeared that Bonilla was indeed too limited physically to play effectively at third.

"I was saying to myself, 'Wow, I made a couple of errors. Everyone's watching,' " Bonilla told NBC's Jim Gray. "But that's just the game of baseball.

"It's going to happen like that. I didn't feel bad. I did the best I could to get to those balls.

"You know what? I honestly don't know what I was thinking. I'm at a loss for words."

His two errors included a poor two-out throw with the bases loaded in the fourth, leading to two runs and a 5-3 Cleveland advantage.

Bonilla lost his grip on the ball, then had to rush his throw. The play was scored a single and an error. But a healthy third baseman would have moved to the ball quicker, would have made the play.

"When you're injured and it's tough to play the field, sometimes you might have to give in to your ego and pride a little bit," NBC analyst Joe Morgan said.

Johnson couldn't have put it any better.

But by the sixth, Angelos probably was shaking his fist at the screen.

In the top half, Jim Eisenreich hit a two-run homer to pull the Marlins within 7-5 -- Eisenreich, who wouldn't have been in the lineup if Bonilla was the DH.

In the bottom half, Bonilla dove toward the line to stab a two-out shot by Matt Williams, then made a strong throw to first on one knee to save a run.

By the time the 4-hour, 12-minute marathon was over, Angelos had something else to hold over Johnson.

It's just Johnson's luck that on the day he was named Sporting News American League Manager of the Year, his old nemesis Bobby Bo became a World Series hero.

Pub Date: 10/22/97

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