Orioles shortstop Mike Bordick has always been more substance than style, so it figured last night would pass quietly, even as he made major-league history.
The club didn't unfurl any numbers from the warehouse, and Bordick wasn't about to take a victory lap after playing his 101st consecutive game without an error, matching the record for a major-league shortstop.
In the ninth inning, an announcement went up on the scoreboard, and there was barely a ripple from the announced crowd of 24,162 at Camden Yards, which watched the Toronto Blue Jays pound the Orioles, 9-3.
Blue Jays leadoff hitter Shannon Stewart had a career-high five hits, including a home run, and Orioles pitcher Rodrigo Lopez lasted just 3 1/3 innings in his worst start of the season.
Bordick, who has gone 500 consecutive chances without an error, hit a two-run homer in the third inning and didn't have a single ball hit his way. The night seemed to pass like the one 16 years ago in the Cape Cod League that spawned his professional career.
J.P. Ricciardi, the former Oakland Athletics scout who signed Bordick that summer, watched from the front row, this time as the Blue Jays' general manager.
Orioles bench coach Sam Perlozzo watched from the edge of his seat.
"He's not nervous, and we're in here like a cat on a hot tin roof," Perlozzo said. "I really, really want him to get this thing. You want good things to happen to good people like that, something he can take with him the rest of his life."
In the second-to-last week of the season, the Orioles are searching for meaning on a daily basis. Last night's loss was their 22nd in 26 games and it left them 3 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in their battle for third place in the American League East.
But this club appreciates the chance to see the 37-year-old Bordick get some recognition for his defense. If he goes errorless again tonight, Bordick will have the longest errorless streak ever by a shortstop, the most demanding position on the diamond.
Rey Ordonez went 101 straight games without an error for the New York Mets from 1999 to 2000.
"I think because things have been so frustrating at the plate, it's taken my mind off things," said Bordick, who raised his average to .230. "It seems like once I take the field, I think about the things I always think about."
Orioles manager Mike Hargrove and his coaching staff received their Rawlings Gold Glove Award ballots yesterday, and the timing was a little disappointing for Perlozzo. He had hoped the ballots would come in a couple days, so coaching staffs around baseball would have Bordick's record fresh in their minds before casting their votes.
"This is one of the darndest things I've ever seen," Perlozzo said of Bordick's record. "I don't think it's getting near the publicity it deserves."
Bordick has never won a Gold Glove, and this might be his last chance because he is contemplating retirement at season's end. Cleveland's Omar Vizquel has won the past nine AL Gold Gloves at shortstop, but he has six errors this season.
Bordick has one error. It came April 10, against Tampa Bay.
"Mike's a special player, and hopefully this time [tonight], we're talking about him breaking the record," Hargrove said. "He certainly deserves it."
Ricciardi first noticed Bordick's fielding prowess when he watched him play for the University of Maine in 1986.
"Every time I saw Bordick, he caught the ball," Ricciardi said. "I had no idea he'd be an everyday shortstop in the big leagues. I didn't know if he would ever hit."
As a first-year scout, Ricciardi had Bordick listed among the players he thought the Athletics should draft, but Bordick wound up going undrafted by everyone that year. He went to the Cape thinking he would be back at Maine for his senior year.
In the seventh round, Oakland took a shortstop from Oregon State named Kenny Bowen, and the A's had a hard time signing him. So their scouting director, Dick Bogard, and Ricciardi went to watch Bowen play in the Cape.
Bogard asked Ricciardi what he thought, and Ricciardi said he still liked Bordick better. So the A's signed Bordick for $25,000 - the amount they had planned to give Bowen - and four years later Bordick was in the big leagues.
"What I did for him was give him an opportunity," Ricciardi said. "He's the one who did all the work to make himself a better player. I'm really proud of him, and [the record] couldn't happen to a nicer player. He just epitomizes what happens sometimes when you give a guy a chance."
Opponent:Boston Red Sox
TV/Radio:Ch. 54/WBAL (1090 AM)
Starters:Red Sox's Derek Lowe (20-7, 2.45) vs. Orioles' Pat Hentgen (0-2, 9.00)