CLEVELAND -- Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada has maintained that he doesn't care about his consecutive games streak, saying he plays every day simply because he loves the game.
So Tejada wore a big smile on his face last night as he prepared to play in his 1,103rd consecutive game, which ties him with Hall of Famer Joe Sewell, who played most of his career here with the Cleveland Indians. But it had nothing to do with his placement on a revered list headed by one of his favorite players, Orioles Hall of Famer-elect Cal Ripken. He was happy because in a couple of hours, he had another game to play.
"I am really proud of myself to get to this point and pass those guys, but like I always say, it's not like I want to have any particular number," said Tejada, who had an RBI single in the first inning last night. "I just play because I love this game. I was engaged to this game as soon as I sign with the Oakland A's in the Dominican. I don't want to leave it. The second I wake up from my bed, I just think about baseball and what I am going to do on the field that day."
If Tejada plays in all 162 games this season - he has accomplished that the previous six years - he'll have the fourth-longest streak of all time, behind only Ripken (2,632), Lou Gehrig (2,130) and Everett Scott (1,307). Along the way, he'll have passed Sewell, Billy Williams (1,117) and Steve Garvey (1,207). Among active players, Texas Rangers first baseman Mark Teixeira has the second-longest ongoing streak at 467 games.
"Cal's streak just absolutely amazes me," Orioles manager Sam Perlozzo said. "Of all the things and of all the records in baseball, the people that play every day - that kind of streak - is just amazing. It takes a special person to never get hurt and never get sick. ... It's a joy to have a guy like that that you know you can plug in there every day."
Perlozzo said the team will likely use Tejada as designated hitter at some points this season to give the shortstop a little break. But he has no plans to take him out of the lineup unless Tejada says otherwise.
Not worried about Ray
Chris Ray has handled the closer's role with aplomb since getting it last season, but if he has had a fault, it is his propensity to give up home runs. That showed Thursday when Ray surrendered a grand slam to Boston Red Sox center fielder Wily Mo Pena, turning a one-run Orioles eighth-inning lead into a three-run deficit.
It was the second game-losing grand slam Ray has thrown this season - New York Yankees third baseman Alex Rodriguez beat him with one in the ninth inning on April 7 - and the 12th home run he has allowed in 77 1/3 innings since becoming the Orioles' closer.
"I think it's just about location," Ray said. "If I hit my spots and make good pitches, obviously they are not going to be hitting home runs. If I don't get behind 2-1 [Thursday], he's not going to be sitting dead-red fastball. Obviously, I don't want to give up home runs. But I don't think I would if I just hit my spots."
Ray saved 33 games in 38 opportunities last season and is 6-for-8 this season. In three of his five blown save opportunities last year and both this year, Ray has been beaten by a home run.
"I don't think there is anything to worry about," pitching coach Leo Mazzone said. "When you got good stuff and you are closing and you are throwing really hard, you are going to give up one every once in a while. It's the least of my concerns."
Around the horn
Jay Gibbons got his second straight start at designated hitter but went 0-for-4 and is now in an 0-for-21 slump. Kevin Millar sat for the second time in four games. ... When Jaret Wright is activated to make tomorrow's start, Jim Johnson will likely be optioned to Triple-A Norfolk. ... Even with bench coach Tom Trebelhorn back with the team, Perlozzo has kept bullpen coach Dave Trembley, who was acting as bench coach in Trebelhorn's absence, in the dugout.
No days off
Longest consecutive game streaks.
1. Cal Ripken 2,632
2. Lou Gehrig 2,130
3. Everett Scott 1,307
4. Steve Garvey 1,207
5. Billy Williams 1,117
6. Miguel Tejada 1,103
6. Joe Sewell 1,103