ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The Orioles received official authorization from the American League yesterday to make up Wednesday and Thursday's rainouts against the Oakland Athletics with a doubleheader Thursday beginning at 4 p.m.
The arrangement fits the Orioles' desire to salvage at least one gate from the rainouts and the league's desire to have its regular season completed on schedule. A popular alternative advanced by the A's recommended one game be played next Thursday with the second played only if necessary Oct. 4, the day after the regular season ends. The league stiff-armed the idea for fear that such a game could result in a tie for the wild card with playoffs set to begin Oct. 5.
Next week's doubleheader means that the A's will have to fly from Oakland after a home game then immediately board a charter for Texas afterward. The opener's 4 p.m. start almost guarantees that they will not leave Baltimore before midnight.
The Orioles also will be inconvenienced. After playing a night game against the Rangers next Wednesday, their off day before a four-game series in Boston will be sacrificed.
Orioles manager Ray Miller said that starting pitchers for the doubleheader, Sidney Ponson and Matt Riley, will likely return to Baltimore ahead of the team. Mike Mussina, who is scheduled to open the series against the Red Sox next Friday, also will probably jump ahead of the team.
Tickets for Wednesday's rainout will be honored for the doubleheader.
Fans may redeem tickets for Thursday's rainout for any of the Orioles' six remaining home games against the Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Fans living outside a 75-mile radius of Camden Yards unable to attend the doubleheader may request a refund for either postponement. Refund requests must be submitted in writing along with the original tickets to the Orioles front office.
Taking the long way
The Orioles' charter touched down at the Long Beach airport yesterday at 10: 30 a.m. local time. Their odyssey included two days of delays and an aborted takeoff that forced players to prepare three times before actually leaving BWI at about 8: 30 a.m. Eastern time.
After the Orioles postponed Wednesday's and Thursday's games at about 4 p.m. Wednesday, an attempt was made to jet to Anaheim that night. While traveling secretary Phil Itzoe hastily arranged a charter, no crew could be found. Players had scrambled home to pack for an 11-day trip but learned that the flight had been rescheduled for 10 a.m. Thursday.
The Orioles boarded the charter and were screaming their way down a BWI runway when a change in wind direction prevented the aircraft from achieving sufficient lift for takeoff. While the plane needed to reach 160 mph airspeed, a severe crosswind limited it to 125 mph. Rather than risk hydroplaning on a soaked runway, the pilot applied reverse thrust. The plane briefly fishtailed before coming to a stop only yards from the end of the runway.
"Anybody sleeping wasn't sleeping anymore," said reliever Mike Timlin. "It wasn't exactly a smooth ride."
Rookie second baseman Jerry Hairston was among those who were sleeping until the stop occurred. "It was a scary situation," he said. "The first thing I felt was the nose coming back down."
First baseman Jeff Conine corrected Hairston's account, saying the nose never left the runway, but admitted, "I've been involved in an aborted landing and aborted takeoff. I'll take the aborted landing."
"By the time that sucker had stopped rolling, my feet were almost through the bulkhead," quipped Miller.
The Orioles deplaned and wandered through the international terminal for almost two hours before they were told the effects of Hurricane Floyd would make another attempt too dangerous. They returned yesterday morning and finally got off the ground.
Surgery for DeShields
Second baseman Delino DeShields' long season is likely over as he will undergo outpatient surgery next Wednesday to address an entrapped nerve in his right quadriceps, team officials said. DeShields, who will be prepped for the procedure Monday, remained in Baltimore along with relief pitcher Arthur Rhodes and first baseman Will Clark.
DeShields has not started since Sept. 2 and last appeared Sept. 10 as a pinch hitter. Miller penciled him in to start once on the last homestand but was informed by DeShields that his injury limited his effectiveness.
Rhodes has pitched only once since leaving an Aug. 22 appearance with a bruised left index finger. A pending free agent, Rhodes continues to see a local hand specialist and is not expected to pitch again this season, meaning he may have made his final appearance with the club.
Clark has been on the DL since Aug. 14 and underwent surgery for the removal of bone chips from his left elbow. His goal is to resume throwing before the season ends.
Around the horn
Despite Conine's slump, Miller didn't indicate increased playing time for rookie first baseman Calvin Pickering. Conine is 4-for-33 in his last eight games, dropping his average to .300. Pickering is hitless with four strikeouts in 10 at-bats with the Orioles but has made only one start and three appearances since his Sept. 7 recall. Jeff Reboulet has one RBI since June 16. Despite Charles Johnson emerging from a skid with a 9-for-9 run, he still has only one RBI since Aug. 23. He hasn't homered since Aug. 6. With his next appearance, Cal Ripken will tie Tris Speaker for 18th place on the all-time games played list at 2,789. The Orioles have outscored opponents, 781-739, this season. A year ago they finished 79-83 while outscoring opponents, 817-785. Anaheim's Garret Anderson extended his hitting streak to 17 games. Angels third base coach Larry Bowa was ejected for arguing a called strike in the sixth inning.
The Orioles brought a 5-10 West Coast mark to Anaheim:
D, Site, O's P*, Res
5/25, Ana, Erickson, L, 4-1
5/26, Ana, Ponson, W, 3-2
5/27, Ana, Guzman, W, 6-3
5/28, Oak, Mussina, L, 2-1
5/29,Oak, Johns W, 7-5
5/30 Oak,Erickson, L, 11-5
5/31, Sea, Ponson, L, 10-6
6/1, Sea, Johns, W, 14-11
6/2, Sea, Mussina, L, 4-2
7/30, Sea, Johnson, L, 7-4
7/31, Sea, Ponson, L, 5-2
8/1, Sea, Mussina, L, 3-1
8/2, Oak, Erickson, L, 7-1
8/3, Oak, Bones, L, 12-2
8/4, Oak, Johnson, W, 9-5
* Orioles pitcher of record