- The Washington Times - Friday, April 12, 2002

BALTIMORE Unfathomable.
The Baltimore Orioles the same team that had looked downright incompetent offensively through its previous six games staged an offensive eruption last night. The Orioles didn't merely end their six-game losing streak, they broke out in a big way.
Baltimore set a club record with 12 runs and 11 hits in the sixth inning en route to a stunning 15-6 victory over the Tampa Bay Devil Rays before 24,179 at Camden Yards. The Orioles roared back from a five-run deficit with a sixth-inning output that doubled their production over the previous six games.
Through it all, the Orioles found themselves experiencing something they hadn't for much of the season fun at the plate. Now they head to Chicago, where they start a 10-game road trip, on a high note.
"When things started rolling that way, it's really fun," said Mike Bordick, who was hitting just .100 before going 2-for-3 with three RBI. "To come out like that and show what we're capable of doing, it's a big lift heading into the road trip."
In one inning, all the frustrations that had built up in the last week came bursting out in a hit parade. The Orioles' bats got a jumpstart with a long-distance jolt from the unlikeliest of sources, catcher Geronimo Gil, who belted his first career home run to open the sixth. No.9 hitter Bordick made it back-to-back shots when he launched a homer to nearly an identical spot in the left-field seats.
From there, the hits kept coming. David Segui had a pair giving him four for the night and Jeff Conine and Bordick also had two hits apiece in the sixth. Bordick had three RBI in the inning, while Conine, Segui, Tony Batista and Jay Gibbons each had two. The Orioles pounded Tampa Bay relievers Travis Phelps, who started the inning and was lifted after just four batters, and loser Jesus Colome.
Heading into the game, the Orioles were hitting .171. They hit .439 last night to raise their team average 43 points to .214.
"It's a weight lifted off our shoulders, definitely," Gibbons said. "For five innings, it was the same old story we couldn't get the big hit, and then boom. Gil got it started, then Bordick, then it took off from there. It was a matter of time before stuff started falling."
Said Orioles manager Mike Hargrove: "We were looking for something to get us over the hump. You don't expect this, but we kept putting the ball in play hard."
Tampa Bay didn't help itself with two errors in the inning. Baltimore had seven singles, two doubles and two homers in the sixth, when it sent 16 batters up and every man in the lineup scored at least one run.
Although his performance won't get nearly the recognition that the Orioles' sixth inning did, reliever Rodrigo Lopez continued his outstanding start to the season by retiring 12 straight batters in four innings in relief of starter Sidney Ponson, striking out four. He has now pitched nine innings and given up two runs. The Orioles' bullpen has not allowed a run in its last 22 innings.

Notes Leadoff man Jerry Hairston was lifted for a pinch runner in the sixth inning when he felt a pull in his left groin. He said the injury, which he first felt in the first inning, shouldn't hamper him. Gary Matthews Jr. made his first start as an Oriole, getting the nod over regular center fielder Chris Singleton.
Cal Ripken's major league career was defined by two elements the team he played with for all of his 21 seasons and his record consecutive games streak of 2,632.. The streak earned him the nickname the Iron Man. Appropriately, the minor league team Ripken brought to Maryland will combine the two elements and be called the Aberdeen IronBirds. The team begins play this summer in Ripken's hometown of Aberdeen, Md.
"We think that the name really maintains and enhances the tie between myself and the Orioles," Ripken said yesterday. "The key was to create a character with personality and life. We gave it some personality."
The logo, featuring a smiling silver jet crossing the letter "A," is enhanced with Ripken's trademarks there are black and orange accents, a number 8 on the top fin and the plane has blue eyes that mirror Ripken's and those of his mother, Vi.
The IronBirds logo was designed by Baltimore-based Planit Advertising. The team, which plays in the Class A New York-Penn League and was moved from Utica, N.Y., begins play at Ripken Stadium on June 18. Ripken said the stadium is near completion and ticket and sponsorship sales are progressing nicely.


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