Twenty years ago the Orioles had fans in Baltimore asking “Why Not?” On Wednesdays, Roar from 34 will revisit a game from that same week of the season to see how the O’s were putting together an improbable pennant chase just one season removed from 107 losses and a 21-game losing streak to start the year.
On July 5, 1989, the Why Not? Orioles defeated the Toronto Blue Jays 5-4 at the new Skydome to improve to 47-34, 23 games better than their record at the 1988 halfway point. The team’s early success led to appearances by Frank Robinson on “Good Morning America” and Gregg Olson and Mickey Tettleton on “Today” prior to the team’s trip to Toronto.
Bob Milacki (5-8) earned the victory over Jimmy Key (7-8) during five innings of work that included seven Blue Jay hits and three runs. Key went eight innings, giving up 12 hits and five runs. Gregg Olson got the save for the O’s with two innings of work, including a shaky eighth inning that ended with a Lloyd Moseby fly ball with the bases loaded.
Reserve catcher Bob Melvin paced the Orioles at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs. Melvin, in the first of his three seasons with Baltimore, finished the year batting .241 with one home run and 32 RBIs in 85 games.
Phil Bradley chipped in a home run, Craig Worthington recorded an RBI double, and Randy Milligan added an RBI single for the O’s.
The Jays got solid production from the 2-3-4 spots in their lineup as Tony Fernandez and Kelly Gruber went 2-for-4 and George Bell finished 3-for-4.
The match-up in Toronto was the Birds’ second go-round with the Blue Jays. Baltimore won both early season series by taking two of three from the eventual A.L. East champions. The Orioles finished 7-6 against the Blue Jays in 1989.
After the July 5 game, the Jays stood 10 games behind the O’s in sixth place.