One out away from deciding absolutely nothing, the Orioles achieved their most drawn-out win in team history this morning. Needing 15 innings and 5 hours, 49 minutes, they outlasted the Toronto Blue Jays, 7-4, when Rafael Palmeiro drove a two-out, three-run homer off reliever Bill Risley.
Thirteen pitchers threw 495 pitches, the last one coming at 1: 25 a.m.
The 35-38 Orioles received their biggest performance of the season from a much-derided bullpen that managed 10 shutout innings and one serious blowup between manager Ray Miller and Terry Mathews. Norm Charlton (2-1) recovered from a disastrous performance the night before to earn a win in return for two outs. Palmeiro's 20th home run this season was also his second game-winner.
"It feels great to win so we won't have to come out tonight and do it again. I was thinking how awful that would be," said Palmeiro.
The teams were one out away from a suspended game that would have been resumed before tonight's regularly scheduled game. A suspended game would have been the Orioles' first since June 21, 1987, at Detroit and the first in Baltimore since July 31, 1978, against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Blame the marathon on the Orioles. With a win, they'll accept the guilt.
They held early leads of 3-0 and 4-3 over Blue Jays starter Roger Clemens, but Pete Smith, making his second American League start, was unable to hold either. The Orioles stranded 16 runners and were 1-for-17 with runners in scoring position until Palmeiro sent the leftovers home happy from a Camden Yards crowd of 47,012.
"A win is a win," summed Miller.
The game outlasted the previous Orioles franchise record by three minutes. That mark had held since a June 4, 1988 game against the New York Yankees that lasted 14 innings.
All but two of 11 runs came from home runs. A bases-loaded walk to left fielder B. J. Surhoff and an error by Blue Jays third baseman Ed Sprague accounted for the Orioles' third and fourth runs. Bases-empty homers by Brady Anderson and Cal Ripken accounted for their first two. Ripken finished with four hits, going 4-for-7. Designated hitter Harold Baines contributed three hits one game after producing four RBIs.
"They would do something good and then it looked like they would have momentum. Then we'd make a play and look like we got it back. It was just and up-and-down game of emotions. It was a hard game to take," said Blue Jays designated hitter Mike Stanley, who hit a tying three-run homer in the fourth inning.
Said Charlton: "We fought long and hard and we came in the clubhouse with a win. Everybody was still here. There was more enthusiasm than I've seen in a long time."
Perhaps the most bizarre element of a strange night came when Miller lifted Mathews from the game with one out in the 15th. Irritated, Mathews attempted to jam the ball in Miller's hand, missed and bounced it off his wrist. When both went for the ball, they came together on the mound.
Miller followed Mathews into the dugout where he profanely ordered him to never repeat the act. Bench coach Eddie Murray eventually moved Mathews into the tunnel. Words apparently were also exchanged back in the Orioles' clubhouse.
"He didn't realize what he did," said Miller, who declared the incident over. "There were a lot of emotions there. But managers and players have a way of taking care of things. He's been through a lot. He wants to do real well. He's been trying real hard and he hasn't had a lot of success. There's a lot of pressure on this end of it, too."
Standing up to questions, Mathews later apologized to his manager and appeared embarrassed afterward.
"I'm trying to get back into a good feeling and help the team out," said Mathews, back this week from his second stint on the disabled list. "I never will question a manager's decision. This had nothing to do with me disapproving of him coming to take me out. I'm emotional about it. It all went off and happened too fast. I watched it on video and I look like [garbage]," Mathews said.
The incident was replayed by Home Team Sports with Miller shown in his pitcher's face.
"Usually it's one of those things you take behind closed doors so [the media] doesn't see it. This time it was out there," said Miller.
It was the only argument that Miller had with a bullpen that allowed only four hits in 10 innings. Arthur Rhodes, Alan Mills and Jesse Orosco combined for 4 1/3 innings to take the game to Armando Benitez, who set a career high with 3 2/3 innings. Mathews and Carlton then combined for the last six outs.
The Blue Jays had their best chance at taking their first lead of the night in the 14th inning when they placed runners at first and third with one out.
However, second baseman Roberto Alomar made a leaping catch of Ed Sprague's line drive and doubled Darrin Fletcher off first base to end the inning.
One night after four co-conspirators allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings, Rhodes held the Blue Jays to one base runner in three innings. Shawn Green created a threat in the eighth inning when he singled and stole second with one out; however, Rhodes overpowered Jose Canseco and Carlos Delgado to hold the tie.
Blue Jays starter Clemens threw 68 pitches to his first 14 batters faced. Of the total he needed 21, or 30 percent, in Alomar's first two plate appearances. Inefficient, Clemens walked or struck out eight of his first 15 hitters faced, sentencing him to a short appearance. The Orioles failed to fully capitalize by leaving the bases loaded in the third and fifth innings.
In the 15th, Joe Carter, looking at an 0-for-8 night, instead rapped a single to right. Brady Anderson, who started the rally with a one-out walk, advanced to second on Carter's single. Carter was erased on Eric Davis' fielder's choice grounder, then Palmeiro ended it with a shot into the bleachers in right-center.
"I don't feel as tired as I'd have felt if we lost," Davis said, forcing a weary smile.
Opponent: Toronto Blue Jays
Site: Camden Yards
Time: 7: 05
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Blue Jays' Woody Williams (7-2, 3.29) vs. O's Scott Erickson (7-6, 4.64)
# Tickets: 300 remain
It's gone; it's over
Orioles' sudden-death home runs at Oriole Park.
Date .. Player .. .. Opp. .. on .. Res.
7/9/94 Hammonds . .. Oak. .. 0 ... 8-7
4/13/96 Anderson ... Min. .. 0 ... 7-6
Hoiles .. .. Sea. .. 3 . 14-13
6/22/96 M. Smith ... K.C. .. 1 ... 5-3
7/15/96 Hoiles .. .. Tor. .. 1 ... 8-6
6/3/97 Palmeiro . . N.Y.Y. . 1 ... 7-5
6/2/98 Palmeiro . .. Sea. .. 1 ... 9-8
6/19/98 Palmeiro ... Tor. .. 2 ... 7-4
Note: The games of 6/3/97 and 6/2/98 went 10 innings; the game on 6/19/98 went 15.
Pub Date: 6/20/98