MINNEAPOLIS -- Two home runs by leadoff hitter Brady Anderson and a career-high 26th by left fielder B. J. Surhoff last night ignited the Orioles to a 10-0 throttling of the Minnesota Twins. Anyone looking closely enough could find encouraging images for the present and future.
Given three first-inning runs, Orioles starting pitcher Jason Johnson (6-7) never allowed the tying run to reach the plate in a powerful albeit abbreviated performance. Right fielder Albert Belle extended his recent breakout with another multi-hit game. And Surhoff ended a slump that had distanced him from New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in the chase for the league hits title.
Breaking an offensive skid dating to last week's transfer from center field, Anderson's four-RBI game featured his seventh leadoff home run of the season and the 36th of his career, moving him past Bobby Bonds for second place on the all-time list.
Anderson capped an impressive night by launching an upper-deck shot off Twins starter LaTroy Hawkins in the seventh inning. Consigned to designated hitter status, Anderson retains a shot at his first 25-home run, 30-stolen base season.
The Orioles showed no mercy against their favorite props. The shutout was their second in a row -- the first time they have had back-to-back shutouts since they ended the 1995 season with five straight -- and extended a string of 20 consecutive scoreless innings thrown at the Twins. The Twins have scored in only two of their last 33 innings against Orioles pitching. The beating allowed the Orioles to extend their season-long dominance of the Twins to 7-1, including six straight.
The win also included symbolism as the Orioles employed a rookie up-the-middle for the last four innings. Second baseman Jerry Hairston enjoyed another memorable game highlighted by a dazzling seventh-inning double play turned with shortstop Jesse Garcia. Rookies Gabe Molina and B. J. Ryan covered the final four innings for the Orioles' ninth shutout win this season.
Hairston followed Tuesday's three-hit game with a two-hit performance. Hairston's third-inning single extended his run of reaching base to seven consecutive plate appearances. At .294, he's threatening the .300 mark.
Center fielder Eugene Kingsale singled twice; catcher Mike Figga singled and scored; and besides his seventh-inning gem, Hairston participated in two other double plays behind Johnson.
The look to the future continues tonight when 20-year-old left-hander Matt Riley makes his major-league debut in the series finale. Riley becomes the youngest pitcher to start for the Orioles in more than 22 years and provides a glimpse at a possible rung of next year's starting rotation.
Miller created a minor stir Aug. 18 when he suggested that Hawkins' solid eight-inning start could be at least partially attributed to a "new pitch." Miller's inference was that Hawkins was cheating by loading the ball with a hidden substance. Hawkins, of course, denied the allegation, saying he had only become more comfortable with a split-fingered pitch. Twins manager Tom Kelly, who succeeded Miller in Minnesota, brushed it off.
Hawkins allowed 10 hits in his Aug. 23 start.
On Sept. 3 he walked four before being pulled after 1 1/3 innings.
Coincidence? Probably. But against the same team he controlled for his first complete game three weeks ago, Hawkins was hammered last night for 10 hits, 20 total bases and three home runs before being rescued by Kelly with one out in the seventh inning. By then, every Orioles starter except third baseman Cal Ripken (0-for-4) and first baseman Jeff Conine had reached him for a hit and the upper third of the lineup had mashed three home runs and driven in five runs.
While Hawkins was taking damage, Johnson was pursuing his goal of a first major-league complete game. The quest seemed within reach when he faced only nine hitters over the first three innings and allowed only three hits through five.
However, when Johnson entered the Orioles dugout after the fifth inning he pointed to a blister on his right index finger. Molina stirred in the bullpen. And what looked to be something attainable instead became five shutout innings and Johnson's second win in his last two road starts after going 1-4 in his first nine starts away from Camden Yards. Johnson returned to the mound before the sixth but was lifted when Miller summoned plate umpire Larry Young to confirm the injury.
No matter. The Orioles expanded a 5-0 lead to 8-0 with home runs by Anderson and Surhoff in the seventh. Hairston's eighth-inning double and a pinch single by Rich Amaral completed the wipeout.
Opponent: Minnesota Twins
Site: Metrodome, Minneapolis
Time: 8: 05
TV/Radio: Ch. 13/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters: Orioles' Matt Riley (major-league debut) vs. Twins' Jason Ryan (0-2, 3.93)
Pub Date: 9/09/99