Cubs 4, Orioles 0
BALTIMORE (AP)—Sammy Sosa’s first road game since being caught with an illegal bat featured warm applause, a potentially dangerous fan and, of course, plenty of cork.
Hours after appealing his eight-game suspension for using a corked bat on June 3, Sosa went 2-for-5 to raise his batting average to .290. A decision on his punishment could come as soon as Wednesday.
If he gets to play another game at Camden Yards, it probably won’t be as strange as this one.
First, Sosa received a cordial ovation from the crowd of 32,484 when he went to right field in the first inning.
“It’s something that made me feel very good, very proud,” he said. “I’ve been doing a lot for this game, so they respect that, and they show me that appreciation.”
But not all the fans were so kind—some of them in the bleachers threw cork at the him in the outfield.
“You know, I got to deal with that,” Sosa said. “Someday, I’m probably going to get tired of it.”
The game was interrupted in the bottom of the eighth when a fan ran onto the outfield, removed his shirt and bowed to the slugger.
“That was another comedian, another idiot,” Sosa said.
No one was laughing.
“Usually they run around, very rarely do they just stand there,” Cubs manager Dusty Baker said. “He just kneeled there. I didn’t know what he was thinking, or what he was about to do. But as it turned out, he was harmless.”
And until they get the final word on Sosa’s status, the Cubs will continue to keep their focus on the playing field.
“We are on a mission, we have a goal,” Baker said. “You just can’t let yourself be distracted.”
Regardless of how the appeal plays out, if the Cubs continue to get the kind of pitching Estes gave them, they won’t miss their stellar cleanup hitter all that much.
Estes (6-5) struck out five, walked two and allowed only one runner past second base. Aided by two double plays, the left-hander handcuffed a team that averaged 6.9 runs over its last 19 games.
“It was a tough night offensively for us,” Baltimore manager Mike Hargrove said. “Estes threw a lot of curveballs, and we had a lot of trouble laying off them.”
Playing in Baltimore for the first time since 1991, when he was with the White Sox, Sosa hit a leadoff double in the second to help put the Cubs up 2-0 against Pat Hentgen (1-4). The liner struck the left-field wall, just short of becoming his first homer since May 1.
“I hit it pretty good,” Sosa said. “No elevation, but I’m just very happy to make contact.”
Sosa struck out against Jorge Julio in the ninth with two outs and runners on second and third. He’s gone 66 at-bats since his last home run.
“I won’t try to go out there and hit a home run because it won’t happen,”he said. “I’m trying to go out there and get my timing.”
Matos has at least one hit in all 15 games since his recall from Triple-A Ottawa on May 23. … The Cubs had two runners thrown out at the plate. … Estes has induced 16 double-play grounders, including 13 in hisvictories.