The Baltimore Orioles haven't quite figured out how to begin a season, and their pitchers sometimes struggle with how to begin a start. But today, Brady Anderson showed everybody how to begin a game, hitting leadoff home runs in both ends of a day-night doubleheader. But the Orioles failed to finish what looked so promising, losing 4-3, and 8-5 in 10 innings, to the Chicago White Sox.
Anderson joins Rickey Henderson and Harry Hooper as the only players to lead off both games of a doubleheader with a home run. Anderson led off with a homer against John Snyder in the opener, then connected against Mike Sirotka to open the nightcap. Anderson has led off a game with a home run 35 times, tying him with Bobby Bonds for second all-time behind Henderson (75).
"I don't feel that much better than if I hit a home run in my third at-bat," Anderson said. "But I guess they keep track of it, so it's nice to be up there with guys like [Paul] Molitor [whom he passed with his first homer]. Now all I have to do is hit one every day for the rest of the season and I can catch Rickey. I think as you're doing it you don't think it's that big of a deal. You're trying to hit the ball hard. When you do it, you not supposed to be surprised."
Anderson's second home run started a three-run first inning to draw the Orioles even after Paul Konerko's three-run homer in the top of the first. But when it came down to the late innings, the Orioles' bullpen gave way in excruciating fashion, not once but twice before 47,375 at Oriole Park at Camden Yards.
In the 10th, Doug Johns gave up a double to Brook Fordyce and a single to Ray Durham. A passed ball by catcher Mike Figga allowed Fordyce to score from third. After Frank Thomas walked, Magglio Ordonez hit a two-run single to seal the game.
It looked like Ordonez had sealed the game in the ninth. With the game tied at 4, closer Mike Timlin walked Durham, then sent him to third with an errant pickoff throw. Orioles Manager Ray Miller decided to walk Thomas intentionally and pitch to Ordonez, who punched a single to left, scoring Durham.
Timlin then walked the virtually unwalkable Mike Caruso on four pitches for Caruso's 15th walk of the season. Miller had seen enough, and pulled Timlin for Jesse Orosco and then Scott Kamieniecki, who each recorded an out to keep it 5-4. The Orioles (54-68) rallied in the bottom of the ninth, if a walk, a hit batsman and a fly ball that moved a runner over can be called a rally. Albert Belle scored on a single by Derrick May, who was called up from Class AAA Rochester earlier in the day. But the White Sox (59-63) answered with their three-run 10th.
Jeff Conine and Ryan Minor also went deep in the first game along with Anderson, but the three shots were all with the bases empty. Seven runners were left stranded over the fourth, fifth and sixth innings, including a runner on third in all three innings.
Even so, the game was tied at 3 in the eighth when a single play left the Orioles on the short end. In the box score, it was an RBI single by Fordyce. In the eyes of Fordyce and Orioles third baseman Minor, it should have been an inning-ending out. Fordyce hit a blooper over Minor's head, but not as far back as Minor thought. The Orioles rookie overran it, looked back and saw it drop by his feet. Brian Simmons, pinch-running for Carlos Lee, scored from second for the game-winning run. "It was a play I definitely should have made," Minor said. "Right off the bat I thought it was farther than it was. I heard [shortstop Mike] Bordick say, `It's behind you,' but by then it was too late. That was a big play."
Fordyce took no congratulations for the game-winning hit off Orioles reliever Al Reyes (0-1). "I reviewed the pitch and it was outstanding," he said. "It was a fastball running in. I got lucky."
Luck seemed to have deserted the Orioles before today's opener with the White Sox (58-63) even started. They began the day with the news that first baseman Will Clark likely will miss the rest of the season with an inflamed left elbow; he is scheduled to undergo surgery to remove bone chips on Thursday.
Clark's replacement, Conine, continued his hot hitting with a single in the fourth and a homer in the sixth. Conine is hitting .368 with six home runs in his last 42 games. Two at-bats after Conine's homer, Minor hit one out -- his second in as many games. Despite the three homers, Miller was miffed his team couldn't sustain a rally. "I expected more offense," Miller said. "Seven left on base in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings . . . one base hit there and we got the game won."