Cal Ripken and Larry Sheets of the Baltimore Orioles hit their first homers of the season in teammate Dennis Martinez's first start today, but in the end it was the Cleveland Indians who got their first victory, 6-3.
"I didn't pitch well at all," Martinez (0-1) said. "I got behind on batters, and my control was off. It's disappointing."
He pitched reasonably well, allowing three runs on seven hits in five innings, and had to be more disappointed in his fielding and that of his teammates. He threw away one bunt, Eddie Murray threw away another and right fielder Sheets dropped a fly.
"We had some real mental lapses," the Orioles' manager, Joe Altobelli, said. "We just played carelessly. The chilly weather didn't help, and neither did that Vern Ruhle. Ruhle had good control. He had us where he wanted us."
Ruhle, 34, won as many games today as he won all last year, when he was 1-9 with Houston. Hitting the corners with low curve balls, he shut out the Orioles on five singles in 6 1/3 innings. He struck out seven and walked one.
"I did what I wanted to: pitch six strong innings," he said. ". . . I tried to stay within my limitations and keep the ball low to get ground balls."
After he gave up consecutive singles with one out in the seventh inning, Tom Waddell relieved him. Waddell gave up Ripken's two-run homer in the eighth and Sheets' leadoff homer in the ninth.
Otherwise, everything went right for the Indians, even Mike Fischlin's eighth-inning suicide squeeze. Julio Franco, the Indians' shortstop, who drove in three runs, said the team's opening day had come three days late.
"We should've done this last Saturday when we had over 60,000 watching us," he said.
"What was the attendance anyway?" asked Franco, who is batting .579 (11 for 19) with six RBI. Informed it was 4,220, he responded, "Well, if they each tell 15 people about it, it'll equal out."
"At least we're not the only team in town that opened badly," center fielder Brett Butler, who had three hits, said, referring to the Cleveland Cavaliers' 2-19 NBA start.
Cleveland took a 1-0 lead with an unearned run in the first. Butler reached on a bunt single, went to third when Martinez threw the ball away and scored on Franco's infield single.
The Indians made it 2-0 in the third when Butler tripled and scored on Franco's fly ball.
Cleveland loaded the bases on two walks and Butler's single with no outs in the fifth, but scored only on Mel Hall's fly ball.
The Indians made it 5-0 off reliever Tippy Martinez in the seventh. Fischin walked and scored when first baseman Murray threw away Butler's bunt. Butler went to third on the error and scored on Franco's second sacrifice fly.
Fischlin's suicide squeeze bunt scored Mike Hargrove in the eighth.