Monday, September 28, 2009

The Eutaw Street Chronicles: Mo Vaughn - July 7, 1996

Mo Vaughn entered his last game before the 1992 All-Star break wondering if he belonged among the game's greats who would play in Philadelphia later that week.

By the end of the night there was no doubt.

Vaughn had threatened to skip the All-Star game with an injured finger after going 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in a 4-3 loss to the Orioles one day earlier. The o-fer extended a streak of 13 games (57 at-bats) without a homer for Vaughn.

The streak ended immediately on July 7 as Vaughn's first-inning home run traveled 419 feet to Eutaw Street and gave the Red Sox a 2-0 lead. Vaughn was the ninth bronze bomber in Camden Yards history.

[More after the jump.]

The celebrated power hitter book-ended his first-inning blast with a 457-foot three-run shot in the ninth that made a loser of Orioles closer Randy Myers. Myers had been 18 of 21 in save opportunities including two saves in the Independence Day weekend series with the Red Sox.

Vaughn's two home runs traveled the combined length of roughly three football fields and padded the first baseman's substantial first-half numbers: .346, 26 home runs, 78 RBI.

"It took my breath away," said Red Sox manager Kevin Kennedy of the ninth-inning home run into the upper reaches of the center-field bleachers. "I knew it was gone, but I just didn't know how far."

The 7-5 loss sent the Orioles into the break with a 46-39 record, six games back of the Yankees. The Red Sox improved to 36-49.

The uneven Orioles looked to have their own feel-good effort in hand in the late innings of the game after rallying from a 4-1 deficit. As they so often did during a season when they broke the 1961 Yankees' record for home runs with 257, the O's powered their way to the lead.

Brady Anderson brought the Birds to within one run in the seventh inning with his major-league leading 30th home run, a two-run shot off Tom Gordon.

Chris Hoiles then hit a two-run homer of his own in the eighth inning, this one off Joe Hudson, to stake the O's to a 5-4 lead.

Hoiles arrived back in the dugout to a phone call from Alan Mills, who took off his cap and waved from the bullpen where the call was placed. Mills could relax after O's starter Scott Erickson did the set-up work on his own with eight innings of seven-hit, four-run work.

Enter Myers, who would finish the season with 31 saves.

The closer retired pinch-hitter Alex Delgado and center fielder Lee Tinsley in the ninth before enabling Vaughn's heroics by walking Jeff Frye and allowing a John Valentin single. Having induced a game-ending flyball from Vaughn just three nights earlier, Myers left a 1-0 fastball over the plate that the Boston slugger devoured.

Vaughn's game winner was the second-longest home run in Camden Yards history at the time and still ranks fourth in the ballpark's history. He hit a career-high 44 home runs in 1996, which was the second in a string of six straight seasons of 30 or more home runs for Vaughn.

Myers, meanwhile, established a new Orioles record in 1997 with his league-leading 45 saves.

Click here for past editions of The Eutaw Street Chronicles.

No comments: