As if Cal Ripken Jr. hasn't done enough to endear himself to Baltimore fans, the Oriole shortstop gave them yet another reason to stand and cheer and demand a curtain call Tuesday night.
Ripken ripped a Pep Harris fastball deep into the left-field seats for his sixth career grand slam in the seventh inning, breaking a tie and lifting the Orioles to an 8-4 victory over the Angels before 37,150 in Camden Yards.
"I just wanted to relax, have a good at-bat and make good swings," said Ripken, who has seven homers and 28 RBIs this season. "If you get too keyed up, thinking you've got to get a hit, you're going to be a little jumpy."
Angel starter Chuck Finley had almost worked his way out of a jam when Manager Terry Collins pulled him before Ripken came up, "and it was tempting to keep Chuck in there," Collins said. "I'm sure he could have gone one more batter . . . but I didn't ask him."
Finley, who walked one and struck out six, said he felt strong, despite making 117 pitches, but he didn't second-guess Collins' decision.
"You've got to look at the reality of the situation," he said. "The bases were loaded, and no one created that situation but yourself. You've got to go with the odds, with the percentages. Sometimes you win those, sometimes you don't."
Ripken's hit atoned for his third-inning error, which allowed Dave Hollins to score from second when Garret Anderson's grounder caromed off Ripken's right heel at third and into center field.
But it also rendered an outstanding Angel defensive play moot. Roberto Alomar had tried to score from first on Eric Davis' fifth-inning double to left-center, but Anderson threw to shortstop Gary DiSarcina, whose one-hop throw to home nailed Alomar at the plate. It was Anderson's fifth assist of the season and fourth on this trip.
Pitcher Shawn Boskie had the best season of his career (12-11, 5.32 earned-run average) for the Angels in 1996 and was hoping to build on that success after signing as a free agent with the Orioles last winter.
But after two starts in Baltimore, Boskie found himself right back where he was after three starts with the Angels last season--in the bullpen.
"But that gets set aside when you think about playing for a championship team," said Boskie, who is 1-1 with an 11.20 ERA. "There's a different atmosphere here . . . it's not like you're hoping things come together, you expect it."
Angel catcher Jorge Fabregas' fourth-inning single snapped an 0-for-21 slump. . . . Angel pitcher Shigetoshi Hasegawa's English is improving, but there's still a language gap. The following exchange occurred between the Japanese right-hander and a Chicago reporter last weekend: Reporter--"How was Anaheim able to obtain you?" Hasegawa--"Oh yeah, very nice." . . . Collins' aggressive base-running philosophy is being incorporated throughout the Angel farm system. Through Monday's games, triple-A Vancouver (Pacific Coast) and Class-A Lake Elsinore (California) led their respective leagues in stolen bases, Vancouver with 40 in 30 games and Lake Elsinore with 69 in 32 games.