- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 3, 2001


BALTIMORE With their 41-year-old retiring star struggling through one of the worst hitting slumps of his career, the Baltimore Orioles last night turned to a 22-year-old kid making his first major-league start for offensive support and another slumping veteran for patience at the plate.
Tim Raines Jr. led off the ninth inning by doubling off the right-field wall for his first career hit and later scored on Brady Anderson's bases-loaded walk as the Orioles beat the Toronto Blue Jays 4-3 before 29,390 fans at Camden Yards.
Cal Ripken, four days shy of his final game as a player, hit the ball hard twice but again failed to get a base hit, and is hitless in his last 29 at-bats, matching the worst slump of his career.
"Cal swung the bat a little better," manager Mike Hargrove said. "He hit the ball hard enough that he deserved a base hit."
Held without a hit since last Tuesday in Boston (the 0-for-29 ties his career high from April, 1988), Ripken is running on fumes at this point of the season. The man forever remembered for playing every day for 16 seasons had been reduced to a part-time player earlier this season but has become a mainstay in the Orioles' lineup in the final days of his career.
Ripken made his 20th straight start last night, pocket change when held up against 2,632, but far and away his longest streak of the season.
"The emotions that have to be going through his mind the last 10 days … Cal, I think, is a little tired," Hargrove said. "It's been a long, grueling year for all of us, maybe more so for him because of the significance of it. But Cal has surprised a lot of people for a lot of years and under different circumstances. The one thing you can count on, you're going to get the best you can out of Cal on that day, and he shows up to play every day."
Hargrove has said he won't sit Ripken these last five games including Friday's day-night doubleheader unless the Iron Man himself asks out of the lineup. So far that hasn't happened, but Hargrove hinted yesterday that "it may be that he wants to sit a day."
With a number of players battling nagging injuries, particularly in the outfield, Baltimore was forced to call up Raines on Monday. The son of the longtime major leaguer of the same name, Raines was thrown to the wolves last night, getting his first career start in center field and batting leadoff.
He made a nice diving catch of Felipe Lopez's fourth-inning liner, but struggled at the plate in his first three at-bats, lining out to left field and striking out twice. No matter his seventh-inning sacrifice bunt, perfectly placed in front of the plate, helped the Orioles tie the game and his ninth-inning double helped them win it.
"It was really weird, because I haven't seen live pitching in the last three weeks," said Raines, who was preparing to play in the Arizona Fall League when he got the call from the Orioles. "I took [batting practice] twice in Arizona and once here, so it was tough to get used to seeing live pitching again. I don't know what happened. I just thank the Lord that it did."
Raines greeted reliever Matthew DeWitt (0-2) with a double to deep right field to lead off the ninth. He advanced to third on Brian Roberts' sacrifice bunt (which was rolling foul but was picked up by third baseman Lopez). Both Jeff Conine and Chris Richard were intentionally walked to load the bases and set up a potential double play, but Tony Batista struck out for the second out, bringing Anderson to the plate to face nasty left-hander Pedro Borbon Jr.
Anderson, who began the night batting .199, worst in the American League among qualifiers, had two earlier hits to get himself over the Mendoza line. He didn't need to swing the bat in his last trip to the plate. After working the count full against the sidewinding Borbon, Anderson took ball four low and outside, allowing Raines to score the game-winning run.
"He's really tough on lefties because he's got such a tough slider," Anderson said. "And I don't consider him a junkball pitcher because he throws his fastball in the 90s. I was just sitting on fastball or slider [with the count full]."
Baltimore's Willis Roberts (9-9) got the win by pitching a scoreless ninth.
Notes Comcast SportsNet will televise every remaining Orioles game except for the first game of Friday's day-night doubleheader, which will be shown on Channels 50 and 54. Saturday's finale will be shown locally on CSN, in Baltimore on Channel 54 and nationally (outside the region) on FX. The game will not be televised on any local regular broadcast channels in Washington… .
Hargrove named Ryan Kohlmeier, at one time this season the Orioles' closer, the starter for Friday's first game. Jose Mercedes will pitch the nightcap.

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