Monday, August 23, 2010
Eutaw Street Chronicles: Bobby Bonilla - Sept. 8, 1996
Three eighth-inning long balls on Sept. 8, including Bobby Bonilla's 405-foot Eutaw Street homer, led the Orioles to a 6-2 win against the hapless Detroit Tigers, who would lose 109 games in 1996. Bonilla's effort was the final of seven Eutaw Street homers in 1996, second only to the eight that were later hit in 2008.
The victory pulled the Orioles within three games of the American League East-leading New York Yankees for the first time since June 24. The homers, meanwhile, pulled the Orioles within nine of the 1961 Yankees for most by a team in one season.
Bonilla, whom the Orioles had considered trading in July, stepped to the plate against reliever Jose Lima with the Orioles leading 3-2 following a Rafael Palmeiro two-run home run. Bonilla took Lima's first offering deep, marking the fifth time that season in which the O's duo struck in back-to-back fashion. Overall, it was the Orioles' 14th set of back-to-back blasts.
After strikeouts of Cal Ripken and Eddie Murray, Lima allowed a single to Pete Incaviglia followed by a Chris Hoiles homer to round out the scoring. Orioles reliever Alan Mills got the win in relief of Rocky Coppinger, who allowed two runs on three hits in seven innings of work.
Bonilla had previously placed two balls onto Eutaw Street during the 1993 All-Star Home Run Derby. He also predicted correctly that Ken Griffey Jr. would be the first player to hit the Warehouse.
Baltimore Sun columnist Ken Rosenthal fittingly dubbed the '96 Orioles the Eutaw Street Bullies. And bullies they were.
The Orioles finished the season with a record 257 home runs. One year later the Mariners topped that mark with 264 home runs of their own.
Seven Orioles (Alomar, Anderson, Bonilla, Hoiles, Palmeiro, Ripken, Surhoff) ended the year with 20 or more homers tying a major league record.
And on Sept. 7 Brady Anderson joined Bonilla and Palmeiro as the first Orioles trio to record 100 RBI in the same season since Frank Robinson, Boog Powell, and Brooks Robinson did so in 1966. Cal Ripken later became the fourth '96 teammate with 100 RBI.
Unfortunately, the Orioles' postseason fortunes did not match those of the '66 Orioles. The '96 team finished four games back of the Yankees in the division and later lost the ALCS to New York four games to one. Both Bonilla, who signed with the Florida Marlins in the off-season, and Eddie Murray, who signed with the Angels, homered in their final Orioles at-bats during the Game 5 loss.