White Sox rookie Ron Kittle drove in about four hours worth of runs today against the Baltimore Orioles. His team didn't play nearly so well, but won, 12-11, because of Kittle's sacrifice fly, three-run homer and two-run single.
Never have the Orioles lost so slowly. The game took 3 hours 56 minutes, one minute short of the American League record for a nine-inning game. Moreover, it was one of the most miserable days in memory. It rained intermittently, the wind gusted to 30 mph and the temperature dipped to 40 degrees.
Kittle said it felt like last year, when he played with the White Sox AAA farm club in Edmonton.
"I played in worse all last year in Edmonton," said Kittle, whose six RBI today gave him 12 RBI in his last three games. Kittle enjoyed Edmonton enough to hit 50 home runs last season.
His single off Baltimore reliever Tim Stoddard turned out to be the difference today; Baltimore, which had trailed by 9-2 at one point, closed within one run in the ninth on an RBI double by John Shelby and an RBI single by Dan Ford.
The teams got 29 hits--15 by Baltimore--but it was Greg Luzinski's sacrifice fly with the bases loaded and one out in the eighth that made a winner of Salome Barojas (1-0).
"I think the pitchers did admirably, especially considering the conditions," said Chicago Manager Tony LaRussa. "I thought Richard Dotson (Chicago's starter) did a very good job."
"I'd have to say that those were the worst conditions I've ever seen a team play under," said Baltimore Manager Joe Altobelli. "Considering the conditions, I thought both teams played extremely well."
The White Sox scored six runs in the fifth inning but played worse than ever in the field. Yet every time the Orioles got back in the game, Kittle would drive in more runs.
Baltimore tied the score at 9 in the eighth when Ford walked, went to third on Eddie Murray's single and scored when second baseman Tony Bernazard dropped a throw from third baseman Vance Law on Gary Roenicke's grounder.
But loser Don Welchel (0-1) walked pinch hitter Mike Squires to open the bottom of the eighth and Bernazard followed with a single off Tippy Martinez, Baltimore's fourth pitcher. Tom Paciorek walked to load the bases and then Harold Baines struck out.
Right-hander Stoddard came in to pitch to right-hander Luzinski, but Luzinski hit a fly ball to center field that brought Squires home with the lead run. Kittle then singled home two more runs, the last one being scored by Jerry Dybzinski.
LaRussa had good words for Dybzinski: "It's funny that the difference in a game like this is a guy (pinch runner Dybzinski) taking an extra base that allowed him to . . . score the winning run."
The longest nine-inning AL game was Cleveland at Boston in 1977.