Monday, March 16, 2009

Eutaw Street Chronicles: April 24, 1994

The Kid goes yard - and then some - for the second time

"You can lose ugly, and you can win ugly. Today, we won ugly."

-Ken Griffey Jr., Seattle Mariners

Major League Baseball's best hitters rained baseballs onto Eutaw Street during the 1993 Home Run Derby; however, no player accomplished the feat during game action that season. Fittingly, Ken Griffey Jr., who hit the Warehouse on the fly during the '93 Derby, put a quick end to the Eutaw Street drought in 1994, touching up reliever Brad Pennington
on April 24 for an eighth-inning three-run homer that capped a Mariners 7-6 come-from-behind victory over the Birds. Griffey's blast traveled 438 feet, 25 feet short of the Warehouse.

Having lost the first two contests of a three-game set with the Orioles, the Mariners arrived at Camden Yards for the early season Sunday afternoon contest saddled with a four-game losing streak. The O's looked ready to continue the trend, jumping out to a 6-3 advantage after six innings on the strength of a Chris Hoiles 420-foot solo blast and a series of Mariner errors, including an errant throw on a Rafael Palmeiro-Chris Hoiles double steal.

"You can lose ugly, and you can win ugly," said Griffey. "Today, we won ugly."

Mariner starter Greg Hibbard gave up six runs in six innings pitched, but only three of those runs were earned. Hibbard avoided an unearned loss thanks to the O's miscues, notably a botched sacrifice bunt in the eighth inning that allowed Mariner catcher Dan Wilson to pick off lead runner Rafael Palmeiro, who reached second base one batter earlier when a fortuitous Cal Ripken Jr. sacrifice bunt stayed fair along the third-base line.

"A sinker is a hard pitch for a runner to read, and when I saw that Palmeiro was on his front foot, I knew I had a chance to get him," Wilson said.

The pickoff helped calm the nerves of Mariners closer Bobby Ayala, who was 0-for-2 in save situations on the young season, and spoiled a two-on, no-out rally attempt. Oriole backstop Chris Hoiles, whose two failed attempts to lay down a bunt ultimately coincided with Palmeiro's baserunning gaffe, struck out for the second out of the inning, and designated hitter Lonnie Smith grounded out to squelch the potential Oriole Magic.
Ayala pitched a clean ninth inning to earn the first of his 18 saves during the strike-shortened 1994 season.

Perhaps the game's biggest mistake, at least in the collective eyes of the home fans, was Johnnie Oates' decision to call Brad Pennington from the pen after getting seven strong innings from starter Jamie Moyer. Moyer loaded the bases in the eighth, starting with a
Darren Bragg drive that caromed off of Moyer's glove and past second baseman Tim Hulett.

"We finally got a break," said Mariner Manager Lou Piniella. "Those are two things that have been happening to us, not for us."

Following Bragg's hit, Moyer issued a free pass to Rich Amaral and surrendered a single to Torey Lovullo to crowd the sacks.

entered and threw two pitches. The first, a wild pitch, allowed a run to score. The second, Griffey's homer, brought three runs to the plate. Oates sent Pennington to the showers and O's fans responded by showering the young Indiana native with boos.

"I was booing too," said Pennington. "We worked so hard to get the 6-3 lead, those fans have the right to boo."

The O's demoted Pennington to the minor leagues the following day.

As for Griffey, the 24-year-old center fielder expressed relief after helping his team end its losing streak and compared his 1994 Eutaw Street longball to the exhibition shot that hit the Warehouse the previous season.

Said Griffey: "I hit this one harder."

Box score for April 24, 1994

The Bronze Bombers (previous entries to the Eutaw Street Chronicles):

-Mickey Tettleton, April 20, 1992
-Kevin Reimer, May 5, 1992
-Lee Stevens, May 23, 1992
-Ken Griffey Jr., July 12, 1993

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