Twins backup catcher Junior Ortiz ended an 0-for-34 slump by getting a single off Cleveland's John Farrell on April 28—his first hit since Aug. 11. After he extended his streak to three games by exploding for two hits against the Indians on May 9, Ortiz said, "Only 58 more and I break Lou Gehrig's record." Sorry, Junior, the record belongs to Joe DiMaggio, not Gehrig, and the Yankee Clipper hit safely in 56 straight games, not 60.
ONE PITCH IS ALL IT TAKES
On May 7, Brewers reliever Chuck Crim came into the first game of a three-game series against the Tigers in the eighth inning, gave up a single to Cecil Fielder on his first pitch and then was taken out. The next night, Crim entered in the eighth again, got Tracy Jones to ground out on the first pitch and was removed. The night after that, Crim was brought in to start the ninth, but the game was called because of rain before he threw any pitches. "At this rate, I can pitch in 140 games," said Crim after the third appearance. "At least I know I can throw strikes. Next time I might start the guy off with a ball so I can assure myself of throwing two pitches."
Leftfielder Bernard Gilkey of the Triple A Louisville Redbirds got three hits in the third inning of an 18-4 win over the Nashville Sounds on May 9. Only one major leaguer in this century has hit safely three times in an inning—Gene Stephens of the Red Sox, in 1953. Gilkey is believed to be the third minor leaguer to have done so. "When I heard that, it freaked me out," said Gilkey, but he was even more impressed to hear that in 1930 Gene Rye of the Class A Waco ( Texas) Cubs hit three home runs in an inning. Gilkey's barrage consisted of two singles and a homer off three different pitchers. Louisville pitcher Mike Hinkle also had two hits in what turned into a 16-run inning. "That's why I had three," said Gilkey. "I had to get more than a pitcher."
LOOK SHARP, BE SHARP
Boston reliever Rob Murphy was so upset with the way he pitched the eighth inning on May 7 in Seattle—during which he gave up a single, two walks and a two-run double—that he raced into the clubhouse and shaved off his 10-day-old beard. Then he returned to the mound and threw a scoreless ninth inning to earn his first save of the season in the Red Sox's 5-4 win. "I had to do something," said Murphy. "I needed to change my frame of mind. I went through four razors. But I came out a new man. I added a foot to my fastball."
California's Mark Langston hasn't done much on the mound lately, but his show-biz career is taking off. Langston will provide the voice of the nuclear computer in a cartoon called Captain Planet and the Planeteers, which will begin airing in September on TBS. Langston may also get to do the lead role, Captain Planet. Tom Cruise had the part, but he dropped out after a few episodes. Langston's competition for the job is said to be Kevin Costner and Mel Gibson.
BY THE NUMBERS
?Are saves meaningless? Cincinnati's Norm Charlton, one of the top relievers in the National League, got the first save of his major league career on May 6. It came in his 90th appearance.
?How bad is San Francisco's pitching? On May 11, Phillie pitchers Ken Howell and Don Carman together went three for five in a 10-6 win over the Giants. Before that game, Howell and Carman had a combined career batting average of .059.
?Through Sunday, Pirate catcher Mike LaValliere had not struck out in 53 at bats. During the same period, Oriole catcher Mickey Tettleton had fanned 37 times in 83 at bats.
?Last year the Orioles won 18 of the final 23 games started by Jeff Ballard and Bob Milacki. This year they have lost nine of those two pitchers' first 13 outings.