The Baltimore Orioles gave the Atlanta Braves a good old fashioned beating tonight, scoring 22 runs on 25 hits and sweeping the Braves in their home ballpark. The O's were on national television for Sunday Night Baseball and they put on a good show. Leading the way offensively was Cal Ripken, who had a franchise record six hits on the night, with six RBI, two home runs, and 13 total bases.
The fireworks started right away with the Orioles scoring five runs in the top of the first inning. Veteran John Smoltz was on the mound for the Braves, his second start back after missing time with some elbow issues. Prior to the game Smoltz said that he only felt about 70% and that he probably could have stayed on the disabled list for three more weeks. After tonight, I'm bet he wishing he did. As Jon Miller and Joe Morgan joked about how John Smoltz at 70% is better than a lot of pitchers at 100%, the Orioles began administering the beatdown.
Brady Anderson took a four-pitch walk to start the game, but then was picked off for the first out. It was really the only good fortune that Smoltz would have in the inning. The next five batters reached base and all came into score. Mike Bordick slapped an opposite field single and B.J. Surhoff walked to put runners on for Albert Belle. Belle singled in Bordick and then Will Clark doubled in Surhoff. That brought Ripken to the plate and he capped off the inning with a three-run homer to left field.
With ace Mike Mussina on the mound, those five runs were more than enough. Mussina gave up one hit in a scoreless first inning, then struck out to start the bottom of the second inning. Just in case you forgot this is the National League, AKA the ridiculous league.
The O's knocked Smoltz out of the game with one out in the third inning. Three straight hits, the last a single by Ripken for his second hit of the day, chased him. His replacement, Justin Speier, immediately gave up a double to Delino DeShields to knock in one run, but he got the next two batters to get out of the inning with the Braves down 7-0.
As Mussina continued to cruise on the mound, the O's hitters continued to bash at the plate. After Will Clark hit his third RBI double of the night to knock in Surhoff and Belle, Ripken connected for his second home run of the night to make the score 11-0. As Cal rounded the bases he got a large hand by the fans in the stands. Maybe that's the southern hospitality I've heard about, or maybe the fans were drunk, but I can't imagine that happening in Baltimore, can you?
The Braves scored their only run of the night in the bottom of the fourth inning. Mussina gave up two hits, a single by Brian Jordan and a double by Javy Lopez, then Jordan came in to score on a sacrifice fly by Ryan Klesko.
In the fifth inning, even Mussina got in on the action. He hit an RBI double for the O's 12th run (to be fair, Klesko got a terrible jump and maybe should have caught it), then came in to score the 13th run on a double by Surhoff. Mussina ended the night with two hits and three RBI of his own. Yes, Mussina knocked in more runs than he gave up.
Beginning in the sixth inning, both teams started subbing out their regulars. The Orioles just kept on scoring runs, with three more in sixth and four more in the seventh. And just to prove they could, they tacked on two more in the ninth.
Ripken didn't come out of the game, though. He added single in the sixth inning and a double in the seventh inning, and he came to the plate in the top of the ninth, looking to become the first Baltimore Oriole to ever record a six-hit game. By this time the Braves were down 20-1 and the fans that remained wanted to see that sixth hit. I could understand that more than the cheering for Cal's second home run. When Cal connected for a solid opposite field single, the crowd erupted, because what else were they going to cheer for?
Later in the inning, Brady Anderson knocked in Ripken and DeShields for the 21st and 22nd runs of the game for the Orioles. Brady had been the only starter in the game without a hit to that point, so it was nice to see him join the party.
A lot of Orioles had good nights in this game, but when history remembers this game, it will remember Cal Ripken's six hits. Since coming off the disabled list in mid-May, Ripken has hit ..367/.395/.651. Ripken looks like he's found the fountain of youth, which is a nice bright spot in what has otherwise been a disappointing first three months for the Orioles.
|Brady Anderson CF||6||0||1||2||1||0|
|Mike Bordick SS||4||1||1||0||0||2|
|Jeff Reboulet SS||3||0||0||0||0||2|
|B.J. Surhoff LF||3||2||2||1||1||0|
|Rich Amaral LF||3||1||2||0||0||0|
|Albert Belle RF||6||3||3||1||0||1|
|Will Clark 1B||4||4||4||5||0||0|
|Jeff Conine 1B||1||1||0||0||1||0|
|Cal Ripken 3B||6||5||6||6||0||0|
|Delino DeShields 2B||5||2||2||1||1||0|
|Charles Johnson C||3||2||1||3||2||1|
|Mike Figga C||1||0||0||0||0||1|
|Mike Mussina P||5||1||2||3||0||1|
|Rocky Coppinger P||1||0||1||0||0||0|