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Johnson’s Tip Helps Murray Rip

Baltimore Sun

Eddie Murray appreciates the orange placards that Orioles fans waved during the last homestand, those that read Ed-die and were produced in anticipation of his 500th homer.

It’s just that maybe they were a little too noticeable. The first time Murray saw them, “we were getting smoked like 13-0,” he said, chuckling. “It didn’t seem like exactly the right time.”

Murray went homerless on the nine-game homestand, and didn’t hit No. 499 until Friday night, when he ripped a changeup by Seattle left-hander Sterling Hitchcock over the left-field wall in the fourth inning of a 5-2 victory. Murray had two singles in five at-bats Saturday, leaving him with 499 homers and 3,199 hits.

Orioles Manager Davey Johnson has no intention of holding out of the lineup so he can hit No. 500 in Camden Yards, and that’s not Murray’s style, anyway; he just wants to play, and No. 500 will come sooner or later.

Murray was asked if he pressed for homers at home, and relaxed once the Orioles took to the road. “The only difference was … (Camden Yards) was not a normal hitting environment, seeing a see of orange,” said Murray. “It would be nice to do it there. Now I’d like to get it out of the way.”

Murray hit his 498th homer Aug. 16, and then fell into a mild slump in which he had only eight hits in 42 at-bats (.190). He swung poorly in the first game of the Mariners series Thursday night, lurching at pitches.

Johnson mentioned to Murray before Friday’s game that he thought Murray was jumping at the ball, rather than letting pitches come to him, and Murray told his manager that he intended to take some pitches against Hitchcock, to help him relax.

In his second at-bat, he pulled a grounder down the third-base line he thought was fair.

He returned to the plate, and two pitches later, he waited nicely on Hitchcock’s changeup and hit No. 499.

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