Alan Wiggins' long-awaited debut in a Baltimore Orioles uniform probably exceeded all expectations -- even his own -- here tonight in Royals Stadium.
Wiggins reached base three times in five trips to the plate, drove in one run, scored one run and stole a base as an integral part of Baltimore's 6-3 victory over Kansas City before 30,488.
The Orioles took advantage of four errors to score three unearned runs off starter Mark Gubicza (6-5).
"It's about damn time," Baltimore Manager Earl Weaver said of his team's good fortune. "This is the first time since I've been back that the breaks all seemed to go our way. It's the first time we got something for nothing."
Winner Mike Boddicker (9-7) allowed eight hits and two earned runs over five innings and got four innings of shutout relief from Sammy Stewart, who earned his sixth save of the season and his first since May 7.
"Sammy looked great, didn't he?" Weaver beamed. "I told Sammy, 'I just saw Sammy Stewart pitch tonight.' "
Wiggins didn't arrive in Kansas City until slightly after noon, on a flight from Richmond -- where he had played the previous night for Class AAA Rochester -- by way of Atlanta. Even so, Wiggins said before the game, "I'd like to play; jump right in there so to speak. I'm nervous right now, and I know I'll be nervous tonight, but I'd like to play."
It was ironic that he thought his biggest problem now might be his leg strength. "I just don't have the drive in my legs that I would normally have at this point in the season," he had said before the game. "They feel light, but not strong."
Afterward he explained, "Running on turf is a lot easier than running on dirt. That might have had something to do with it."
His RBI single, which tied the game, 1-1, was hit "dead off the head (of the bat)," Wiggins said. "It felt good."
"I don't want it to be said that I am a franchise or anything," Wiggins said before the game. "I just hope through my contributions that things will fall in place. I don't have any personal goals -- none. I'd just like to help Baltimore win."
He certainly did that tonight. Weaver wrote his name in the lineup immediately, making Wiggins the eighth Orioles player to bat leadoff this season.
This batting order was fairly imposing. After Wiggins, who stole 70 bases last year, came Lee Lacy, whose .306 average coming into the game placed him among the league leaders.
Cal Ripken, Eddie Murray and Fred Lynn batted where they usually do, third, fourth and fifth, respectively. But Jim Dwyer, who has hit first or second almost all season, dropped to sixth, which pushed Larry Sheets down a notch to seventh and Wayne Gross one spot down to eighth. Catcher Al Pardo made his first start since being called up from Rochester, and hit in the No. 9 spot.
In the third, Gross reached base on an infield single to the pitcher, which should have been a routine out. Gross getting a leg hit was nearly as surprising as seeing him go from first to third on Pardo's subsequent single.
Wiggins then delivered his first American League hit to tie the score after Kansas City's unearned run in the first. What should have been a double-play grounder by Ripken turned into an error by shortstop Onix Concepcion, allowing Baltimore to take a 2-1 lead.
In the fifth, Wiggins, after being hit by a pitch, stole second and went to third on a wild pitch that should have been blocked by catcher Jim Sundberg. Lacy's innocent grounder to third gave George Brett a great opporunity for an out at the plate. But he tried to rush and dropped the ball, allowing Wiggins to slide across safely with Baltimore's third run.
"Wiggins certainly adds a little something," Weaver said. "We probably wouldn't be attempting that with somebody else. He made something happen in that case. We said we wanted to try to take advantage of his speed."
And the Orioles made it 5-1 moments later when Ripken's bloop single to right bounced between Darryl Motley's legs -- for a three-base error -- and rolled to the wall as Ripken rounded the bases easily.