Miguel Tejada returns to Oakland for the first time since signing with Baltimore as the slumping Orioles open a four-game series with the AL West-leading Athletics at Network Associates Coliseum.
Tejada was signed by Oakland as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic and spent parts of seven seasons in the majors with the A’s. He blossomed into a superstar in Oakland, helping the A’s into the postseason each of the previous four years.
In 2002, Tejada hit .308 with 34 homers and 131 RBIs and was named the AL MVP, ahead of Alex Rodriguez.
However, the All-Star shortstop was informed last spring that the A’s would not be able to re-sign him and he subsequently agreed to a $72 million, six-year contract with Baltimore during the offseason.
“I don’t want to lie, I really want to come back to Oakland,” Tejada said. “I want to say to the fans, ‘I was really happy while I was here. At the time, I really appreciated all the support of the fans.”’
“They know. They understand,” Tejada said of the fans. “They said they were not going to sign me in the beginning of the season in spring training. … They say they can’t afford me, what can I do? I’m not leaving, they made me leave.”
Monday’s game will be the 716th straight that Tejada has played, matching Ernie Banks for the 14th-longest consecutive games streak in major league history.
Tejada went 4-for-5 with a homer, three doubles and five RBIs Sunday, but the Orioles dropped their sixth straight, 8-5 to the Toronto Blue Jays. Tejada leads the AL with 113 RBIs.
The Orioles had won 11 of 13 before their losing streak, but dropped eight games beneath .500 as they finished their homestand 0-6, including a three-game sweep by Oakland earlier in the week.
“We had a lot of momentum coming in, we were playing great baseball,” first baseman Rafael Palmeiro said. “We never saw it coming. We were on a high. But that’s just how baseball is.”
Baltimore’s starters posted an 18.62 ERA in the series, allowing 20 runs in 9 2-3 innings.
“You only go as far as your pitching, and we just didn’t pitch well the last few games,” manager Lee Mazzilli said.
“It was a great trip,” Oakland manager Ken Macha said. “I’ll take 5-1 anytime.”
The A’s own a half-game lead over Texas and Anaheim in the AL West.
“We can’t sit there and watch the scoreboard,” starter Mark Redman said. “We have to take care of our own business, and that’s winning ballgames.”